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Man wearing balaclava wielded hammer before robbing two Armagh shops, court hears

Staff stated that the male said he was a drug addict and that if anyone came near him he would kill them

Josh Lakin

A man wearing a balaclava wielded a hammer before robbing two Armagh city shops on Monday morning, a court has heard.

Josh Lakin, of Elgin Street in Belfast, appeared before Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday afternoon charged with two counts of robbery, criminal damage and possession of a Class C drug.

The 25-year-old indicated, through his defence solicitor Andrew Linney, that he wished to apply for bail and that he would be contesting the charges.

A detective constable told the court that at approximately 11.36am on Monday, police received a report of an armed robbery at Mullan’s Spar on the Killylea Road.

It was reported that a man had entered the shop wearing a balaclava and subsequently demanded money from the till while brandishing a hammer.

It was disclosed that during the robbery the man had lifted up his face covering and exposed his face, which was captured on CCTV.

It’s then reported that the male had left in a blue coloured Seat Leon, which was driven in the direction of Irish Street in Armagh.

During the incident on the Killylea Road, the shop manager reported that only receipts were taken from the till.

Shortly after midday police then received a further report of an armed robbery that had taken place at Ring Road Stores on Lower Irish Street, Armagh.

It was reported that a male had entered the store with a hammer and smashed the screen of a Pay Pal kiosk demanding the staff open the till.

Staff stated that the male said he was a drug addict and that if anyone came near him he would kill them.

It was disclosed that a male suspect left the store and again got into a blue coloured Seat Leon before it drove away from the area.

During this incident, the shop owner reported that approximately £200 in £10 and mainly £5 denomination notes were stolen.

When the robber left the Ring Road Stores a member the public was able to capture a photograph of the male and also gave a description to police of the vehicle, including a partial vehicle registration mark which was circulated to police crews.

A blue coloured Seat Leon was stopped by police in the Portadown Road area of Armagh a short time later.

The detective constable told the court that from the CCTV images circulated of the male police were able to identify the defendant – Lakin.

The occupants of the vehicle were searched and a quantity of what is believed to have been a Class C controlled drug was found in the vehicle, along with cash, including 19 £5 notes.

Lakin was arrested for robbery and cautioned at 12.50pm.

The detective constable added that CCTV from the incident would corroborate what the witnesses have said, that the Seat Leon car was used “as a getaway vehicle in both cases”.

“Based on this police would be objecting to bail,” said the witness, adding that Lakin was “on post charge bail for a similar incident where cash was snatched from an off-licence in Belfast”.

He added that Lakin gave no comment to all questions posed and “offered no explanation for his whereabouts or actions on that day”.

Defence solictor Andrew Kinney questioned the detective constable on the fact that another person in the car was wearing the same jogging bottoms seen in the CCTV footage, however, the police officer ruled that, given this other male’s heavyset stature, it ruled him out as the male who entered the shops.

Mr Kinney argued that his client would be happy to stick to a rigid set of bail conditions, including an electronic tag, and “he’s happy to be precluded from entering Armagh in its entirety”.

Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter refused bail and remanded Lakin in custody until his next appearance on March 28.

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