A 35-year old man who robbed a convenience store in east Belfast was handed a six-year sentence on Monday.
William Patterson targeted the Russell’s store on the Woodstock Road on the afternoon of February 18. After telling staff he had a knife, Patterson made off with just over £400 in both notes and coins.
Judge RoseAnn McCormick QC spoke of the need to protect small businesses, and handed Patterson the six-year sentence which will be divided between three years in jail and three years on licence.
The court heard that around 3.20pm, Patterson - whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry - pulled his grey hoodie over his face before entering the store. He told staff “I don’t want to hurt you” and while he said he had a knife, no weapon was shown.
While the robber told a male member of staff to open the till, a female colleague ran into the storeroom and called police. During the incident, Patterson said “them ones are making me do it.” After cash was handed over, Patterson - who the staff believed was drunk - said “give it five minutes before you ring the police”.
He then left the store and ran off in the direction of Carlingford Street. Police arrived at the store around 3.30pm, and a man matching the robber’s description was seen by officers, staggering around in the area.
Patterson was stopped, spoken to, arrested and searched. He was found to be in possession of around £320, and at one point said “where’s the knife?”
When he was interviewed the next day, Patterson initially made the case he had obtained the money from the bank. However, when he was shown CCTC from Russell’s, he admitted it was him - making the case he had no recollection of the robbery as he was drunk.
The court heard that at the time, the father of one was living a transient lifestyle and during that week had forgotten to pick up his anti-depressant medication. Patterson was also described as a man isolated from his family, and with a history of binge drinking.
Sentencing Patterson for the robbery, Judge McCormick noted the impact the incident has had on the employee, who has been looking for a new job since February. She also noted the robbery lacked any sophistication or planning, and that Patterson appeared before the court with 42 previous convictions.