Two are jailed for robbery at service station

Two men were caught red handed carrying out a robbery involving over £15,000 at a Lurgan service station, Craigavon Crown Court heard on Friday.

They were 30-year-old William Jones, Drumgor Heights, Craigavon, and 37 year old William George Stewart, Knocknashane Meadows, Lurgan.

Jones, who admitted robbery, having an imitation firearm and assault on police, was given a six year sentence consisting of three years in custody and three on licence.

Stewart admitted robbery, unlawful possession of an offensive weapon and resisting a constable and was sentenced to five and a half years, 33 months in custody and 33 on licence.

The court heard that at 10.30pm on January 20 this year a member of the public notified police of a robbery in progress at the Parkgate service station on the Avenue Road, Lurgan.

There were two staff in the premises. Stewart approached one, grabbed him by the arm and pulled him over the counter before taking £545 from the till.

Jones had a small hand gun, which turned out to be a BB gun, and walked the staff to the office. They said they had no access to the cash machine but the safe was opened. It contained £15,000.

Police arrived and drew their weapons and warned the defendants but they ignored the police.

After a struggle Jones was arrested and he made a full admission. He claimed he carried out the robbery after a threat was made against his family.

Stewart was also detained after a struggle. He had £545 cash in his possession. He made a no comment interview.

Both had disguised their faces with scarves.

A barrister for Jones said threats had been made to him and his family.

He told the court that Jones, who had been released from jail the previous August, had got GCSEs and other qualifications while in prison and when he came out got his best job ever.

However, the barrister added, a moment of madness because he was under threat landed him back in jail.

A barrister for Stewart said he found himself in financial difficulties because he was unable to work.

He said he was quite aware that the man in the shop knew him even though he had a scarf around his face.

Judge Patrick Lynch said Jones had a drug debt before he went into prison and although he had used his time in prison well it was a concern that he threw it all away by getting involved in this type of offence.

They took a risk which did not come off and will have to pay for it, added the judge.