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Man identified as shop robber on Facebook jailed for four years

The Mace at Caffrey Hill where the drug-fuelled robbery took pace 
The Mace at Caffrey Hill where the drug-fuelled robbery took pace
By Staff Reporter

A gunman arrested after being identified on Facebook as a shop robber has been jailed for four years.
23-year-old Gerard Bracken, of Fruithill Park, had taken heroin before an “impulsive decision” to rob the Mace convenience shop on Caffrey Avenue in West Belfast, armed with a shotgun and a hammer.
A young shop assistant had to leave her job as a result and suffers panic attacks, Belfast Crown Court heard.
Bracken entered the store at 9.25pm on February 27 last year. Wearing a woollen hat and sunglasses, he produced the gun and ordered her to hand over cash from the till. He walked behind the counter and ordered her to fill a bag with cigarettes and tobacco. He became agitated that she was not complying quickly enough.
He pointed the weapon at her throughout. It was not recovered and could have been an imitation firearm. She noticed the hammer in his pocket.
Two customers entered the shop. She told them she was being robbed. Bracken fled, chased by one of the customers, but escaped.
The manager put a CCTV image on Facebook and asked if anyone could identify the robber. Several people provided Bracken’s name and address.
The judge noted that “most of the posts referred to him in a disparaging way.”
Police went to Bracken’s home and arrested him. They found cigarettes, tobacco, cash, sunglasses and a woollen hat.
Bracken initially told police a friend had “stashed” items at his house. Bracken was subsequently picked out in an identification procedure. He admitted robbery, possession of a firearm or imitation firearm and possession of a hammer with intent to commit robbery.
He told probation he had taken heroin before the robbery that he went to his friend’s house for more drugs, that he had a pellet gun and that he made an “impulsive decision to rob the local shop.”
A defence barrister spoke of Bracken’s “difficult background” and addiction problems.
Saying it gave him “no pleasure to impose a sentence on a young man with addiction issues,” the judge said the assistant was “finding it very, very difficult to come to terms” with what happened to her.

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