Two addicts high on drugs were sentenced to eight years yesterday (Thursday) for a two-day robbery spree.
Jailing the pair, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said that the courts had emphasised “time and time again” that deterrent sentences would be imposed on those choosing to attack what were seen as “easy targets.”
The senior Crown Court judge said these were local businesses which provided vital services to the community, often during unsocial hours, and staffed by “isolated and vulnerable” employees and “seen by many as an easy target.”
The pair - 28-year old Wayne Cameron of no fixed abode and Paul Roberts (26) from Curran Road in Larne - pleaded guilty to carrying out three robberies and a burglary between the early hours of January 27 last year and the following evening.
Roberts, in addition, admitted a burglary committed earlier on the morning of January 27.
Judge McFarland, who said he was giving them credit for their guilty pleas and for time already served, ordered that they serve four years in custody followed by four years on licence when they are released.
The court was told how Roberts and two others broke into a house in the Surrey Street area of Belfast - but fled empty-handed when disturbed by the occupant.
A short time later, both Roberts and Cameron were involved in a second burglary in Stranmillis, during which a silver VW Gold was stolen.
The VW was then used in the robberies at Glenabbey Filling Station, Glengormley, a Subway outlet and at a Co-Op store. Roberts’ barrister said his client was so high on heroin that he had no memory of his involvement until shown CCTV footage by police, after which he readily admitted his guilt and has shown genuine remorse and regret and acknowledged that staff may have been left traumatised.
Cameron’s barrister also spoke of his client’s remorse and noted that his client was ‘high’ on a cocktail of drugs.