Would-be robber had drunk 24 cans of Harp

Scott McCormick had taken 15 Diazepam tablets before the robbery
Scott McCormick had taken 15 Diazepam tablets before the robbery

An east Belfast man who tried to rob a local convenience store armed with a butter knife after drinking 24 tins of Harp and consuming 15 Diazepam tablets was handed a five-year sentence on Thursday.

Scott McCormick - who appeared at Belfast Crown Court with 114 previous conviction - had no recollection of the early morning attempted robbery, during which he was restrained by a member of staff.

The 28-year old, from Lichfield Avenue, was informed he will serve half his sentence in prison, whilst the remaining two and a half years will be spent on licence upon his release.

The court heard McCormick entered the Co-Op Store on the Beersbridge Road at 7.45am on January 16 this year. Once inside, he demanded that the till be opened, before walking behind the counter and lunging at a male member of staff.

Prosecuting barrister Philip Henry said that at first, the staff member thought the demand for money was a joke until McCormick started swinging at him with a butterknife in his hand.

McCormick launched an attack on the employee, who was able not only to disarm McCormick but was also able to restrain the would-be robber behind the counter until police arrived.

Mr Henry told the court that during the incident, the staff member could tell McCormick had been drinking, prompting the prosecutor to comment: “Had the defendant not been so intoxicated, the incident may have been significantly more serious for the employee, due to the violence and aggression in the attack.”

Mr Henry also revealed that during the incident, McCormick repeatedly threatened the staff member, saying “I know who you are, I’m going to kill you.”

After watching CCTV footage of the incident, Judge Gordon Kerr QC said: “It is clear that he walked into these premises and without giving the person behind the counter a chance to comply with demands for money, he went straight on to starting to swing at the man with a knife in his hand.”

McCormick was arrested and taken to Musgrave Street police station. Whilst in custody, he repeated the threats he made against the employee to police, saying he was going to slash the other man’s throat.

When he was finally deemed fit for interview, McCormick said he had been drinking the whole day prior to the attempted robbery. He also said he had drunk 24 tins of Harp and had taken 15 Diazepam tablets.

Mr Henry said McCormick “accepted it must have been him, but he had no memory of the incident.” He subsequently pleaded guilty to three offences - attempted robbery, threats to kill and possessing of an offensive weapon.

Reiterating his client’s claim that he had no recollection of the attempted robbery, defence barrister Richard McConkey said thiS “wasn’t surprising” due to McCormick’s drink and drug intake.

Mr McConkey said that after McCormick was shown the CCTV footage, he was “devastated” by what he had done, adding he would never be allowed back to a shop he used all the time. He also said McCormick was overpowered easily by the staff member who “dealt with him in such a robust fashion.”

The barrister also spoke of McCormick’s troubled background and fragile mental health, adding that when he is released from prison, he wants to start a new life with his girlfriend.

Sending McCormick to jail, Judge Kerr praised the staff member who restrained him for his “commendable bravery.”