Grave digger held over robberies

Published Friday, 17 January 2014
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Londonderry Magistrates’ Court has heard claims that a grave digger went on a robbery spree after he had gambled and lost hundreds of pounds in a betting shop in the city.

Grave digger held over robberies
The defendant is set to appear again in court in February. (© UTV)

Darren Sweeney, of Greenwalk in the Creggan area of the Derry, is charged with robbing the McLean's bookmaker's office at Strand Road of £360 and a short time later of robbing another McLean's shop, this time on Foyle Street, of £1,100.

The 34-year-old grave digger, who is employed by Derry City Council, is also charged with possessing a firearm with intent to commit a robbery.

A detective constable told District Judge Barney McElholm that prior to the robberies on Wednesday, the defendant, a father-of-three, had gambled and lost £670 in the McLean's office at Cable Street in the Bogside.

The officer said staff in both the Strand Road and Foyle Street offices said that a man wearing a scarf over his face and armed with a shotgun had carried out the robberies.

When police examined CCTV footage, a black Vauxhall Astra car registered in the defendant's name was seen close to both crime scenes.

Later, when police went to the defendant's Bishop Street address, they recovered notes and coins as well as Bank of Ireland bags which were also stolen during the robberies.

Opposing bail the police witness said the shotgun and £500 were still missing.

He said when in police custody the defendant, who denies the charges, phoned his wife and told her there was money in his Bishop Street address.

Refusing bail Mr McElholm said the defendant had been charged with "an alleged spree of offending over the course of one day which suggests a person out of control and not stable".

He said local people had been shocked by "the level of this type of offending over the last month or so".

The defendant was remanded in custody to appear for a video-link hearing on 13 February.

© UTV News
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