Northern Ireland

Belfast man jailed for three armed robberies in an hour

A Belfast teenager who robbed three shops at gunpoint within an hour has been jailed for five years.

David Reilly, 19, of Bethany Street, pleaded guilty to three counts of armed robbery and three charges of having a gun for criminal enterprise.

The offences took place at three shops on the Woodstock and Albertbridge Roads on 2 April, 2010.

Reilly's co-accused, Christopher McNarry, of Frank Street, Belfast, was released on two year's probation.

The 25-year-old will also serve 80 hours community service.

Belfast Crown Court Judge Tom Burgess said that along with Reilly's "poor" criminal record, he was also a significant risk to the public and ordered that he serve a further three years on licence once released.

The court heard that during the three robberies Reilly had worn a balaclava and used a replica BB gun to demand cash and cigarettes from members of staff. Each time he pointed the gun at staff and "cocked" the weapon.

Judge Burgess said Reilly had been the "prime mover" in the spree but McNarry admitted being involved in two of the robberies.

McNarry had acted as a look-out while Reilly entered the shops and the judge was happy that this, and his clear record, justified his lesser sentence.

Judge Burgess said he was taking the "exceptional course" because McNarry was not dangerous, was in the bottom 1% of the population as regards intelligence and because psychologists had identified a "window of opportunity" for him to tackle his problems.

In sentencing Reilly, he revealed that among his 23 previous offences were convictions for assaulting a nurse and senior social worker.