Jail for men over armed robbery

A DUNGANNON man and a Pomeroy man have been jailed for three years for a robbing two filling stations while armed with guns.

Desmond Hamill, 39 of Springhill Estate, Dungannon and Austin Creggan, 48 of Park View, Pomeroy were sentenced at Belfast Crown Court on Monday for the offences on 14th January.

A court heard how the two men were caught and arrested as they made their getaway from robbing a second filling station at gunpoint while the stations were closing up for the night.

Completely masked, dressed in military gear and brandishing guns, the pair ran at the two staff members demanding they ‘hand over the money or I’ll shoot you’ and a solicitor recounted how, after grabbing a money bag containing £5,520 the robbers ran off.

But unknown to the men, the police had mounted a surveillance operation on the garage at the Ballygawley Road and as a result the pair were arrested.

During interview, a court heard how the two men initially refused to answer questions but both later pleaded guilty to the offences of robbery and the possession of real and imitation guns with the intent to commit robbery.

Defence solicitors for the pair said while it did not take away from the alarm or fear caused to the members of staff, the robbery itseld descended into an ‘almost farcical’ situation as when the two men tried to run off they were ‘banging into one another.’

Judge David McFarland said the accepted the pair, although ‘willing volunteers’, were being used by more sinister elements but told them: “You may want to reflect while you are in prison, why you are in prison and not the others that used you.”