A man accused of being one of two balaclava-clad raiders who had a sawn-off shotgun when £5,000 was taken from a Larne shop, allegedly deposited £2,000 cash in his bank account on the same day, a court heard on Saturday.
Ryan Robert Connor, (35), of Mill House, Priory Gardens, Larne, has been charged with robbery; possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence; converting criminal property; aggravated vehicle taking and using a vehicle without insurance.
He appeared at Ballymena Magistrate’s Court on Saturday. Another man, aged 22, previously appeared in court in connection with the incident which happened on Monday June 19 this year, and was remanded in custody.
Last month, police said the shop worker was uninjured but was left “very badly shaken”.
Entering the dock on Saturday, Connor asked if he could be released from handcuffs saying he had once broken his two wrists racing a scrambler bike and was in pain. The defendant said: “I am not a violent person”.
A police officer said he was satisfied the restraints were put on adequately and District Judge Liam McNally refused for the handcuffs to be taken off during the short hearing saying as it was a Saturday there was not the normal level of security in the courtroom.
Another police officer said he could connect the accused to the charges and said in June a Nissan Micra was stolen in Larne and it reappeared with false number plates on June 19.
It was pictured on CCTV at the rear of a Spar shop at Linn Road, Larne, with two occupants. The officer said a co-accused is in custody.
The officer said both suspects were wearing green balaclavas and a sawn-off shotgun was being carried which was brandished at a shop worker after entry was gained through a door which was left open for deliveries.
After £5,000 was stolen, the officer said the car was found in the Inver area and clothing including balaclavas were recovered nearby.
The officer said Connor’s DNA was found on one of the balaclavas and the DNA of the other accused was on the other balaclava.
The policeman said the shotgun was not recovered.
The officer said Connor was arrested and released on police bail at a time when evidence was still being gathered.
He said the co-accused was arrested on June 26 and when police attempted to contact Connor again, the defendant “went on the run”.
Connor’s picture was put on social media, said the officer, and he evaded police detection until Friday when he handed himself in.
The officer objected to bail saying the accused had 41 previous convictions and he believed he could re-offend and also not return to court if freed.
On the date of the armed robbery, the officer said Connor placed £2,000 into his own bank account.
Defence solicitor Daniel McCorry said his client had not got back in touch with police because he had “buried his head in the sand” and “panicked” when he was contacted by the PSNI.
He said the accused denies the offences and said his client has CCTV at his own home which showed him entering and not leaving on the relevant date.
Judge McNally refused bail saying they were serious charges and said there was a likelihood of further offending as the firearm had not been recovered.
As he was remanded in custody to appear in court in August, Connor called police “scumbags,” claiming they did not show his personal CCTV “because they know it is in my favour”.