Man bailed after pleading not guilty to bookies robbery

Jonathan Gibson appeared at Carndonagh District Court
Jonathan Gibson appeared at Carndonagh District Court

A Derry man accused of robbing a bookmakers with an imitation firearm has been released on bail after pleading not guilty.

Robert Barry Crossan (38) from Creggan Heights was released under strict conditions imposed at Tuesday’s sitting of the Crown Court.

Crossan stands accused of robbing a man of £390 cash and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery at a bookmakers.

When the charges were put to him at the hearing he pleaded not guilty.

The charges are in relation to a robbery at a Ladbrokes bookmaker’s shop on December 14th, 2013, when a man walked in with a balaclava on, pulled out an imitation firearm and demanded money.

A prosecution barrister said part of the evidence in the case against Crossan was CCTV footage whereby, it was claimed, half the perpetrator’s face was captured before he puts on his balaclava, with the bottom half of his face visible after it was worn.

She accepted that at no stage was the culprit’s full face captured.

She said the bulk of the evidence came from statements by two police officers who have dealt with Crossan in the past and claim to recognise him from the CCTV evidence.

The court was told that Crossan denied the offences outright when interviewed.

Getting money together for Christmas presents was discussed during interview, and when asked by police how many children he had, he replied he had “seven or eight”.

The Crown opposed bail on the grounds that the defendant might abscond or commit further offences.

The investigating PSNI Detective Constable in the case was called up by the barrister at the hearing, and told the court that the accused had a history of breaching court orders.

He also said Crossan had full knowledge police were looking to him and didn’t make himself available for a time last December, and had a very lengthy criminal record going back to 1990, bar a spell when no offences were committed between 2000 and 2005.

Witnesses in the case, the court heard, still work for the same firm and there was a fear there could be interference with witnesses.

A barrister acting for Crossan told the court these were not identification witnesses, and that there was only a short period before Crossan was interviewed by arrangement, and that this resulted from him wanting to extend the Christmas period for his children.

A letter was also sent to the court from a social worker advocating that bail be granted so Crossan could continue to help with pressing family matters.

Judge Philip Babington said that it was very much a “line ball call” whether bail was granted or not, stating that there was “no doubt he has got an appalling record” and had “shown scant regard for court orders” in the past.

The Judge said however that he had read carefully through the letter from Social Services and was minded to grant bail, albeit with very stringent conditions.

Crossan was released on bail of £100 on conditions that included his being electronically tagged, observe a curfew from 8pm to 8am, does not consume alcohol or illicit drugs at any stage, re-engages with the Alcohol and Drug Service and work with Social Services.

The court heard that Crossan’s trial would begin on September 8th.