Thief: I robbed Subway outlet to help pay debt

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A Belfast man who claims he robbed a fast food outlet with a screwdriver after he was assaulted over an unpaid debt has been jailed for 17 months.

Mark Philip Taylor, 31, of Oakvale Parade, Dunmurry, pleaded guilty to a single charge of robbing the Subway premises in Belfast city centre earlier this year.

Belfast Crown Court heard that at around 10am on May 1 Taylor walked into the Dublin Road outlet and approached a female counter assistant.

Brandishing the screwdriver in one hand, Taylor told her: “Give me all the money in the till’’, before telling her to put the money in a plastic bag.

Prosecution barrister Mark Farrell said that as Taylor left the premises, he turned to the shop assistant and said: “I’m sorry.’’

Mr Farrell said that the shop assistant had been “left petrified and scared’’ and has been unable to return to work.

The court heard that a regular customer to the Subway shop along with a friend gave chase and “apprehended the defendant and held him until police arrived and the money was recovered’’.

While being taken to Musgrave police station, Taylor told a police officer: “I was badly beaten with a hammer. I had to pay them or they would kill me.’’

He said the attack had happened that morning but in fact police discovered the assault had occurred three days earlier and was caught on CCTV.

The court heard the attack described as a “serious assault’’ during which Taylor was struck on the back of the head and to the body. He needed staples to a head wound and sustained a broken leg, a broken arm and a fracture to his wrist.

Defence barrister Luke Curran said Taylor had a history of drug and alcohol problems which later “escalated to taking heroin”.

He added that as result of his drug addiction, father-of-two Taylor had “built up debts’’, had carried out the robbery to repay the money he owed but had made “no attempt to conceal his identity’’.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said Taylor had an “appalling criminal record’’ which listed 112 previous convictions dating back to 2000 when he was aged just 14.

He said a pre-sentence report assessed Taylor as a “high likelihood of reoffending”, but the judge added that he did not find the defendant posed a “serious risk of significant harm to the public” under the dangerous provisions.

The judge sentenced Taylor to 34 months, with 17 months spent in custody and 17 months on supervised licence following his release.