Drug addict tried to snatch woman’s mobile phone in city centre


A homeless man who tried to snatch a woman’s mobile phone from her hand as she stood at a set of traffic lights has been made the subject of a two-year probation order.

John Martin David McGarry admitted a charge of attempting to rob the woman on September 1 last year.

Judge Patricia Smyth told the 31-year-old: “This was a very serious offence and your victim was subjected to a frightening and no doubt distressing incident.”

Belfast Crown Court heard that McGarry has epilepsy which has been exacerbated by a long history of drug abuse.

His barrister revealed that in the past year, McGarry had been admitted to hospital on 13 separate occasions – mostly for drugs overdoses and epileptic seizures.

The accused, who at the time of the attempted street robbery was living at a hostel on University Road in Belfast, approached the woman as she stood at traffic lights at the Albert Clock in the city centre.

After saying to her “give me your phone”, McGarry made a grab for the phone which resulted in he and the woman becoming embroiled in a struggle which lasted a few seconds. The incident came to an end when a passer-by intervened and hit McGarry with his walking stick, causing the accused to flee.

When he was arrested and questioned, McGarry made a full admission.

Placing McGarry on probation, Judge Smyth spoke of his “chaotic lifestyle” but said she accepted there were signs he was trying to tackle his addiction.

As part of his probation, she recommended that McGarry participate in a drugs counselling programme.