A 49-year-old man convicted by a jury of carrying out a botched armed robbery at a Chinese takeaway in Belfast has been handed a seven-year sentence.
Jailing Frederick George Loughins, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland paid tribute to the “resilence and resourcefulness” of the staff, who chased the would-be masked robber from the premises with a shovel.
Judge McFarland said small businesses and their staff – such as the one targeted by Loughins – “deserve protection and will receive protection from the courts”.
Loughins will serve half his sentence in prison, followed by a three-and-a-half year period on licence.
The defendant, a father of three and grandfather from Rathkyle in Antrim, denied he was the masked man who entered the Chinese takeaway on the Crumlin Road on the evening of December 28, 2015, armed with a knife.
He stood trial earlier this year on four offences arising from the botched robbery – namely attempting to rob cash, possessing an offensive weapon in a public place, and assaulting two members of staff.
The trial was held at Belfast Crown Court earlier this year, where a jury returned ‘guilty’ verdicts on all four charges.
During sentencing, Judge McFarland paid tribute to the staff, one of whom chased Loughins from the premises with a shovel.
A Crown prosecutor branded the incident as a “terrifying experience” for those involved, and also revealed that at the time, Loughins, who has amassed 68 criminal convictions, was in breach of a suspended sentence.
The prosecutor said that during the attempted robbery, Loughins was armed with a knife which he pointed at a member of staff and which he dropped.
When the knife was recovered and forensically tested, Loughins’ DNA was found to be present. He was also identified by one of the employees.
Defence barrister Luke Curran said the offending came at a time when Loughins was “at the end of his rope” after his north Belfast home was burned down, all his possessions were lost and a death threat had been issued against him.