Nationwide robbery accused has a new job

Coleraine Courthouse.
Coleraine Courthouse.

A cleaner charged with robbing the Nationwide Building Society in Coleraine where he worked, now has a new job, a court has heard.

And a lawyer said his client wanted his appearance at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday to be dealt with quickly so he could get to the new employment by 11.30am.

24-year-old Christopher Burgess had originally told police he was the victim of a ‘tiger’ kidnapping but earlier in January he was charged with robbery and false imprisonment. of his girlfriend.

Burgess, of Ballyallaght Farm Cottages in Dunseverick near Bushmills, is accused of being involved in a raid at the Nationwide Building Society in Coleraine on January 10 this year.

At court on Monday a bail variation was adjourned until April and the court heard the accused’s mother is no longer willing to provide a bail surety for her son and that has now been taken over by his father. He was released on continuing bail.

At the same court in January a defence solicitor said his client rejected any allegation he committed the robbery in which £1,253 was taken but that he was the victim in the case.

A second accused - Adrian Clarke (32), a night porter of Dunluce Manor, Bushmills - also appeared separately at the January court on the same two charges as Burgess and a further charge of carrying a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery.

The officer told that court Burgess reported to police that three armed and masked men came to his home address and tied up his partner at gunpoint and ordered him to go to the Nationwide where he works as a cleaner.

He told police he was ordered to steal cash and afterwards he was taken home and taped up.

The police officer said the accused told police that whilst in the Nationwide he received a call which he believed was one from one of the robbers.

The officer said phone analysis showed the call was made from a phone belonging to co-accused Clarke and that both work together at night porters at the Causeway Hotel near the Giant’s Causeway.

That court heard Burgess had three jobs - at the Nationwide, the hotel and he is also a carer.

The officer believed Burgess would have recognised the voice of his friend.

The policewoman alleged the route Burgess claimed he was taken from his home to Coleraine was different than that which police believe.

She said CCTV showed him entering the building society and removing money from a cashbox as well as going to a safe and ATM machine and she said Burgess said he was told by the phone caller to try to get entry to the safe and ATM.

The officer told the January court Burgess’ partner said three armed men came to her home and at the time police were still looking for two other raiders and also the stolen money.

The policewoman said Clarke is Burgess’ supervisor at the Causeway Hotel.

Burgess’ defence barrister Michael Smyth told the January court it was a “tiger kidnapping” and that his client had contacted police and was taken by two of the masked men, who he believed were armed, in his partner’s car to Coleraine.

Mr Smyth said when his client was initially being dealt with as a witness he told police he used his mobile phone whilst in the Nationwide and Mr Smyth asked if there was any evidence it was Mr Clarke on the phone.

The officer said Clarke confirmed he had the phone in his possession.

Mr Smyth said it all pointed to his client being an “innocent victim” and then police become suspicious because of a phone call.

The officer said Clarke admitted it was his phone and that he had it on the date in question.

Mr Smyth told Deputy District Judge Paul Conway in January there was a danger the “victim of a tiger kidnapping” could be remanded in custody and that his client had provided information to the police.

In January Clarke was brought to the dock separately and his defence barrister Francis Rafferty said his client told police he phoned Burgess for an entirely innocent purpose because he is his hotel supervisor and is in charge of rotas and there was nothing unusual in calling him at various times.