Coleraine tiger kidnapping ‘victim’ charged over robbery

The cash was stolen from the Nationwide branch in Coleraine
The cash was stolen from the Nationwide branch in Coleraine

A cleaner at a building society who told police he was the victim of a tiger kidnapping has appeared in court charged in connection with the robbery.

Christopher Burgess, 24, of Ballyallaght Farm Cottages in Dunseverick, is alleged to have been involved in the offence at the Nationwide Building Society in Coleraine on January 10.

A defence solicitor said his client rejects any allegation he committed the robbery in which £1,253 was taken – and that he is the victim in the case.

Burgess was released on bail when he appeared at Coleraine Magistrates’ Court charged with robbery of the Nationwide and false imprisonment of his girlfriend at their home.

A second accused – Adrian Clarke, 32, a night porter of Dunluce Manor, Bushmills – also appeared separately at the court on the same two charges and a further charge of carrying a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery, and was remanded in custody.

Both men will appear again on February 15.

An officer said Burgess reported to police that three armed and masked men came to his home address and tied up his partner at gunpoint and ordered him to go to the Nationwide where he works as a cleaner.

He told police he was ordered to steal cash and afterwards he was taken home and taped up.

The officer said the accused told police that whilst in the Nationwide he received a call which he believed was one from one of the robbers.

The officer said phone analysis showed the call was made from a phone belonging to co-accused Clarke and that both work together as night porters at the Causeway Hotel near the Giant’s Causeway.

Burgess’ defence barrister Michael Smyth said when his client was initially being dealt with as a witness he told police he used his mobile phone whilst in the Nationwide.

Mr Smyth said it all points to his client being an “innocent victim”, and then police becoming suspicious because of a phone call.