A gang of four men who were followed by police travelling from Belfast to Portrush were on Friday jailed for carrying out a ‘cash in transit’ robbery outside a bank in the seaside town.
Handing all four men prison sentences for the role they played in the incident, Judge Stephen Fowler QC said: “Robbery remains one of the most prevalent types of serious crime in Northern Ireland.”
The four Belfast men – Alexander Carlin, 38, from Margaretta Crescent; 31-year old Joseph Thomas Savage from Horn Drive; Patrick Joseph Craig, 29, from Suffolk Road and his 24-year old brother Paul Craig from Aitnamona Crescent – were arrested in the centre of Portrush following an undercover police operation on February 24 last year.
Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard the four were followed travelling from Belfast in two cars. When they arrived in Portrush, Paul Craig armed himself with a large kitchen knife and approached a security van as it made a delivery to the Danske Bank, while his three co-accused remained a short distance from the bank.
Paul Craig, brandishing the 32-inch knife, told the van driver – who was in fact an undercover police officer – that he would be stabbed if he didn’t hand over the cash box.
All four men were arrested and subsequently pleaded guilty to robbery.Paul Craig also admitted possessing an offensive weapon with intent to commit a criminal offence.
Judge Fowler said while the robbery was “unsuccessful” and “unsophisticated”, it did however require a “degree of planning and intelligence gathering”.
Patrick Craig was ordered to serve three and a half years in custody with a further three and a half years on licence. The other three men – Carlin, Savage and Paul Craig – were each jailed for four years and will serve an additional four years on licence when they are released from custody. Paul Craig, who Judge Fowler said played a “principal role”, was also handed a concurrent three-year sentence for possessing the offensive weapon.