‘Primary offender’ lodged £2,000 into bank account one week after armed robbery

Belfast courts
Belfast courts

A “primary offender in the Larne area” who is facing charges arising from an armed robbery in the town was refused bail on Friday.

Belfast’s High Court heard that one week after the incident during which £5,000 was stolen, Ryan Connor lodged £2,000 into his bank account which the police believe was “part of the proceeds of the robbery.”

Connor, from Priory Gardens in Larne, is facing five charges arising from the armed robbery, which occurred at the Spar Store on Lynne Road on the morning of June 19.

As the owner was opening the store at around 6.35am, two men entered the store wearing gloves and balaclaves, and brandishing a sawn-off double-barrelled shotgun.

It is the Crown’s case that 35-year old Connor was one of the men, and that he and a co-accused forced the owner to hand over cash.

Crown barrister Kate McKay said that during the incident, threats were made to blast open the safe using the gun. After £5,000 was handed over, the pair fled the store in a stolen car which bore false number plates and which was later found abandoned.

Connor was arrested later that day, and refused to answer police questioned including accounting for his movements that morning. At this point he was released on police bail.

Mrs McKay said that clothes and other items were recovered during a search conducted close to the abandoned car and on June 26 forensics came back and indicated Connor’s DNA profile was found on a balaclava. He handed himself in to police on July 7.

Telling Mr Justice Colton that police were opposing bail, Mrs McKay said Connor was a “primary offender in the Larne area” and had a “considerable” criminal record with 41 previous covictions. The prosecutor also said that at the time of the armed robbery, Connor was under a suspended sentence for a prior offence.

Mrs McKay also said that two days after the robbery, Connor was seen driving on Lynn Road close to the Spar, prompting concerns Connor may interfere with witnesses. She said other reason for opposing his release was linked to a history of breaching bail.

Defence barrister Michael Boyd said a suggestion that Connor would interfere with witnesses was “not grounded”.

Accepting there was forensic evidence to link Connor to the balaclava, Mr Boyd said “this is not incontrovertible evidence that he was involved in the robbery.”

Mr Boyd also acknowledged that Connor’s criminal record was “nothing to be proud of”, but spoke of a significant reduction in his client’s offending in the last few years.

Asking that Connor be granted bail, Mr Boyd said: “He has been on bail in the past. He knows the rules. If he was given bail and he didn’t adhere to it, he wil go straight in to custody for a very lengthy period of time.”

Branding the charges Connors faces as “very serious”, Mr Justice Colton spoke of his “significant” criminal record, previous bail breaches and the suspended sentence. Refusing the application, the Judge said Connors was “not an appropriate candidate for bail.”