Two drunken self-confessed robbers who held staff of a pizza outlet at knifepoint last September, before making off with cash and a mobile phone, have both been sentenced to seven years.
Belfast Crown Court judge Stephen Fowler QC said that time and again the courts had made it clear that vulnerable staff members working for small retailers were “deserving of the courts’ protection”.
A drunken William Carrigan, from Graymount Road, Newtownabbey and Stephen Dalton from Fairfax Court, Belfast, were caught in a car by police a short time after the terrifying robbery on September 8 last year.
Strewn about the vehicle was the cash from the raid, and the mobile belonging to a member of staff.
Both men are 31 and will serve at least three and a half years of their sentence before being considered for release.
They claimed they picked up the money, which had been dropped by two others they saw running from the pizza shop.
Judge Fowler said Carrigan and Dalton had both threatened staff with knives, before ransacking the till and taking a mobile phone from a member of staff.
As they were leaving Carrigan further threatened that he knew all of the staff and would return if he discovered they had not given them all available monies.
The judge said that aggravating factors included the use of knives, generating fear in vulnerable staff working late at night and for a relatively small commercial outlet.
However, in mitigation, he added, while knives had been brandished, no violence was in fact inflicted on staff members. The pair also deserved credit, although not full credit, for their guilty pleas.
In addition to his jail sentence Carrigan was also fined £100 and banned from driving for five years for driving with excess alcohol.