A 22-year-old former bricklayer, who allowed himself to be used as “a patsy” to rob a cash-in-transit driver of £6,000 at gunpoint, was sentenced to 10 years on Thursday.
He will serve five years in custody, followed by five more on supervised licensed parole.
Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said while he accepted Thomas Andrew Martin Thompson got involved “in this particular escapade” at the suggestion of others, he had played “the primary role ... irrespective of others in the background”.
Thompson, from Cloona Glen, Dunmurry, pleaded guilty to robbing the RMS security driver of his cash box on June 23, 2012, while in possession of a firearm, or imitation, with intent to cause fear of violence.
Prosecutor Philip Henry said the driver was returning with his cash box from a Winefare store on Belfast’s Andersonstown Road when he saw what he took to be a builder, complete with hard hat and hi-visibility jacket, approach him.
The man, who was “brandishing a gun”, ordered the driver to put the cash box down.
Mr Henry said the driver later told police that he didn’t think the gun was real, but the man then cocked the weapon, so he put the box down.
He added that since neither the box nor the gun have been recovered, it could not be said if it were a firearm or an imitation.
The lawyer also revealed that Thompson, who had been given a police caution in the past, was linked to the robbery when his fingerprint was found on the builder’s hard-hat recovered from the scene.
Once arrested he was also later identified by the driver.
Defence lawyer Barry Gibson said while under the “benign influence” of these others, “who used him as a patsy”, Thompson, referred to as a “naive and relatively immature young man”, agreed to the suggestion he carry out the raid.