Northern Ireland

Man jailed for five years for east Belfast knife robbery

Belfast court
Image caption Belfast Crown Court was told Mark McKay could not remember the robbery

A man with mental health problems has been jailed for five years at Belfast Crown Court for his part in a robbery.

Mark McKay, of Clandeboye Street in Belfast, wielded a knife while he and another man armed with a hammer robbed a Co-Op store on the Beersbridge Road in the east of the city last August.

They manhandled a female shop assistant and stole cash and tobacco.

Thirty-year-old McKay claimed he could not remember what happened as he had stopped taking his medication.

He later pleaded guilty to robbery and possessing a weapon with intent to commit robbery.

A prosecution lawyer said the pair "manhandled" the shop assistant while demanding she handed over money and cigarettes.

Her manager tried to intervene but was told by McKay that he would "carve you up".

The pair left with £123 in cash and £269 worth of tobacco products but police happened to be nearby and they gave chase, catching both men within a short distance.

Convictions

The prosecution accepted that McKay did have mental health problems, but as he himself had decided to stop taking his medication "that cannot take away from his culpability".

The lawyer also said that McKay has a criminal record containing convictions for robbery, criminal damage and car theft.

Jailing McKay and ordering that he serve half his sentence in jail and half on supervised licence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC revealed that his accomplice had been sentenced to 30 months, and lamented that the pair had been dealt with separately.

He told McKay that had he been sentencing them both at the same time, McKay would have faced a seven-year sentence, but allowing for the disparity, he was reducing his sentence to five years.