Man who robbed bookmakers jailed for three years

The inquest took place at Ballymena Courthouse
The inquest took place at Ballymena Courthouse

A man who robbed two bookmakers with a toy gun has been jailed for three years.

Darren Joseph Sweeney, of Greenwalk, pleaded guilty to the robbery of two McCleans Bookmakers on January 14, last year.

He also admitted two further charges of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Derry Crown Court heard the 35-year-old went into the bookmakers on the Strand Road and Foyle Street pointed the gun, which was described as a Winchester style shot gun, at the managers and demanded money.

He stole over £1,400 in the robberies.

Sweeney was linked to both incidents through his car and eye witnesses were able to provide police with the registration number.

He denied the offences during police interview, however while in police custody he made a phone call to his wife and was overheard telling her there was money in a drawer.

Police searched the property and found £815.

Defence counsel Michael Boyd told the court this was a ‘one off’.

He said Sweeney had lost £750 in the bookmakers earlier that day and ‘hatched this plan on the spur of the moment.

Passing sentence, Judge Phillip Babington said Sweeney has ‘complex medical problems’ and had his leg amputated in September last year.

He said as ‘an act of mercy’ he would treat the 34-year-old as ‘different to the norm’.

‘There is no doubt that this defendant will find any period of imprisonment much more difficult than any normal defendant and I intend to impose a lesser sentence’.

The judge imposed a determinate sentence of three years, 15 months of which will be spent in prison with the remaining 21 months spent on licence.