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Last Updated: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
McCartney friend jailed over raid
A man stabbed and left for dead along with murder victim Robert McCartney has been jailed for robbing a security van.

Brendan Devine, of Mayfield Village in Glengormley, was sentenced to seven years at Belfast Crown Court.

Appearing alongside him were William Francis Evans, 24, of Albert Street and John O'Connor, 33, of Torrens Avenue, both of Belfast.

Both men were also jailed for seven years over the robbery which took place on 24 February 2004.

Evans and O'Connor were ordered to spend two years of their sentence on probation.

The men were virtually caught red-handed carrying out the raid on the Cash-Co security van as it made a delivery to Finaghy Post Office in south Belfast, the court was told.

Devine, who had rugby tackled a security guard delivering the cash, was caught a short distance away after throwing the cashbox over his shoulder while being chased by police on foot.

Evans, who was the driver of the getaway car, and O'Connor, his front seat passenger, were arrested in nearby Locksley Parade after abandoning their stole car.

'Anxiety'

The court heard that Devine, who suffered "extensive and life threatening injuries" when knifed outside a Belfast bar in January, had since made a full recovery physically, but mentally was suffering from post-traumatic anxiety disorder.

His defence barrister said the father-of-two had run up "significant and uncontrollable debts" because of his "serious and tragic abuse of drugs".

In order to fund his lifestyle and business Devine, who was spending up to 1,000 a week on his habit, agreed to get involved "out of desperation", and had "succumbed to the temptation of immediate profit," his counsel said.

However, the lawyer claimed that despite his involvement in the robbery, "his offending seems to have been totally out of character".

He said that while out on bail, Devine's "situation was changed very significantly by events which occurred recently - the circumstances of which are clearly in the public domain".

Devine, he added, was the "victim of a quite serious attack" in which "unfortunately his colleague (Mr McCartney), who was with him, was not so fortunate".

Drug abuse

Defence barristers for Evans and O'Connor, said their involvement also stemmed from the need to fund their drug abuse.

Jailing the trio, Judge Rodgers said he would "not make any distinction between them as each had a role to play".

He added that all three had financial problems which they thought could be solved by committing the robbery.

He said as robbers they were "playing for high stakes and must accept appropriate sentence when caught".



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