Ballymena wheelie bin case: Guilty trio will be released soon

Adam Robinson's parents Mervyn Robinson and Wilma Stewart outside Belfast Crown Court after sentences were passed
Adam Robinson's parents Mervyn Robinson and Wilma Stewart outside Belfast Crown Court after sentences were passed

Two men and a woman who were involved in imprisoning a naked party-goer in a taped-up wheelie bin which was left in a wooded area of Ballymena have been sentenced to a total of nine years.

Passing sentence, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said 22-year-old victim Adam Robinson had been left “highly traumatised” and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder by the September 2013 ordeal which was designed to “punish, demean or humiliate him”.

Appearing in the dock of Belfast Crown Court were Teri Christopher Bernard Lau, 28, from Dunclug Park in Ballymena, 28-year-old Roddy Patterson from Glendun Drive in the Co Antrim town and 22-year-old Paula Wilson, from Main Street in Cullybackey.

Lau and Patterson each admitted assaulting Mr Robinson occasioning him actual bodily harm, and of false imprisonment. Wilson – who at the time of the incident was in a relationship with Lau – admitted aiding and abetting false imprisonment.

While Lau and Patterson were each handed three-and-a-half-year sentences, Wilson was given a two-year sentence. All will serve half their sentences in prison, with the remaining half spent on licence when they are released.

It is understood that due to time already served, all three will be released from prison soon.

Adam Robinson declined to give his reaction after the sentencing.

However, his father Mervyn Robinson said he was “disappointed” – especially he said given the fact “they will be out soon”.

Mr Robinson also revealed that he will be forever thankful to the dogwalker, and Maisie the dog, who found and rescued his son from the bin.

When asked how he felt about the sentences, Mr Robinson expressed disappointment and said: “It has taken us such a long time to actually get here. It’s taken a long long time ... coming to all these hearings and we finally got here.”

He added that given the 50 per cent remission, the trio will be released “very shortly” and “will most likely be back in Ballymena very soon”.

This, Mr Robinson said, is something that scares his son the most, and he said: “Adam wants to go down the town in Ballymena and walk about freely, and who knows who he is going to bump in to some day when he walks around a corner.

“It’s tough for him. Ballymena is not that big a town and he realises the possibility of that happening and it probably plays on his mind too, which he doesn’t need because he has been through so much.

“It’s been very, very traumatic for him, so hopefully he can put this behind him.”

Prior to Mr Robinson being discovered and rescued from the bin by a man walking his dog in Sentry Hill, he had been partying with all three defendants in Lau’s Dunclug Park home.

All four were under the influence of drink and drugs, and while Mr Robinson can’t remember how and why he ended up in the bin, it was suggested during a previous court hearing that he stripped himself naked and placed himself in the bin before it was wheeled from Lau’s home to a nearby shop.

It was whilst in the shop buying mixers that Lau saw the industrial tape, which was then used to secure the lid of the bin with Mr Robinson inside.

The bin was then wedged against a tree, and it was the Crown’s case that if the dog had not alerted its owner to noise coming from the bin, Mr Robinson may not have been rescued.

Judge Kerr said that when Mr Robinson was freed from the bin at around 4pm on September 3, 2013 he was naked, covered in sweat, extremely distressed and “clearly disorientated”.

The judge said that after reading victim impact reports, it was clear that Mr Robinson has suffered significantly as a result of his ordeal.

The reports indicated that he has had trouble sleeping, had been distressed by the publicity surrounding the incident and is suffering from PTSD.

Regarding the incident itself, Judge Kerr said Mr Robinson would have suffered from sensory deprivation whilst in the bin and he had “no idea why he was abandoned and how long he would be there”.

Turning to each of the defendants, Judge Kerr spoke of Patterson’s bad record and said that while he was giving him credit for his guilty pleas, it was “inevitable” his role would be discovered.

Wilson, the judge said, admitted a lesser role and despite initially denying that she remained at the scene when the bin lid was taped down, she has since expressed remorse and described her behaviour as “disgraceful”.

Lau, who Judge Kerr said instigated taping the bin lid down by buying the tape and who suggested it was “funny” and a “prank”, also came before the court with criminal convictions.

After sentence was passed, all three were taken back in to custody and were led away from the dock just yards from where Mr Robinson sat in the public gallery yards with his parents and brother.