Jailed County Derry man planned 'lavish night out in Belfast' for girlfriend

Bishop Street courthouse, Derry,
Bishop Street courthouse, Derry,

A County Derry man who attempted to rob the customer service desk in of Foyleside Shopping Centre in Derry has been jailed for two years.

Joseph McCloskey, of Ranaghan Road, Maghera, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of an offensive weapon, namely a folding knife.

The offences were committed on December 7, 2016.

Derry Crown Court heard the 20-year-old approached the customer service desk and handed a note to one of the female security officers.

The note read: ‘£2,000 now. I am armed. No alarms, no sudden movements. 20s, 50s and 10s’.

A further note was written on the back of the piece of paper stating ‘give me all the money in two tills. I am armed. No sudden movements’.

The woman alerted her colleage, who went to phone for assistance. At this stage McCloskey ran off and left the shopping centre.

However, the court heard CCTV followed the defendant and he was apprehended at the Foyle Street Bus Station.

McCloskey was searched and officers found a black folding knife in his pocket. It was accepted there was no attempt to use this as he was making the demand for money.

The defendant told police ‘make sure my girlfriend is alright’, as he was with her prior to the attempted robbery.

McCloskey made no comment during police interview, even after he was shown CCTV of the incident.

The court heard that his fingerprints were found on the note following an examination.

It was revealed McCloskey does not have a criminal record, however, there are further cases pending.

Defence counsel Liam McStay said his client ‘came up with some mad idea he could improve his relationship with his girlfriend by spending money on her and going on a lavish night out in Belfast’.

He told the court the incident was ‘bizarre’ and the attempted robbery was ‘almost certain to fail’.

The barrister said McCloskey had has issues with his mental health and alcohol in the past. He added that the knife found in his client’s possession was his late grandfather’s.

Jailing McCloskey, Judge Philip Babington said: “Robbery is a very serious offences indeed. This was an attempt and I will deal with you in a way that I think is generous.”

He imposed a two-year sentence, half of which will be spent in custody and half on licence in the community.