Teen robber of St Mals and BRA pupils is jailed

By Kieran Hughes

A New Lodge teenager with learning difficulties who was only 15-years-old when he robbed five North Belfast school kids over a seven-day period was being used by other teens to “do their dirty work”, a court has heard.

Martin Damien Joseph Largey, who is now 19, robbed pupils from St Malachy’s College and Belfast Royal Academy of various items including an iPod and an MP4 player between June 5 and June 11, 2009.

On Friday (November 30) Belfast Crown Court heard that Largey carried out the robberies to pay for drugs and that his addiction problems started at the age of eight when he was tied to a chair by a group of males and forced to take drugs.

On June 5, 2009 Largey, whose barrister said he had the mental age of a seven-year-old, was with another male when they approached two 15-year-old BRA pupils as they were walking home along Duncairn Gardens.

Largey, who was armed with a golf club, robbed the boys of their iPods and made off in the direction on New Lodge, shouting “Up the New Lodge hoods”, a prosecution lawyer told the court.

Three days later on June 8 a group of four males, including Largey, confronted another 15-year-old BRA pupil on Duncairn Gardens as he walked to Yorkgate train station after finishing an exam.  Largey, who was again armed with a golf club, took the schoolboy’s phone. The injured party asked if he could keep the SIM card but was refused. The attackers made off and a passer-by came to the boys’ assistance.

On June 10 Largey, this time armed with a brick, and accompanied by another male, robbed a St Malachy’s College pupil of his mobile phone. The attackers threatened that the boy would get his “head smashed in” if he didn’t hand over the phone.

Then a day later a 15-year-old BRA pupil was with one male and two female friends near McLaughlin’s Bar on the Antrim Road when Largey and another male robbed him of his mobile phone. During the incident Largey got the boy in a headlock and punched him twice in the face, the court was told.

Later that month, on June 26, Largey robbed a St Malachy’s College pupil of his MP4 player as he walked along the Antrim Road.

Largey was also appeared for sentence for the robbery of a man in a multi-storey car park at St Anne’s Square in November 6, 2011.

At around 6.15pm the injured party was paying for his car parking when he noticed Largey and another male standing close to him.

They followed him into the lift. The two assailants pressed the button for 1A, but when the lift got to that level the got out and got back in again.

Largey told the man: “We will be taking your bag for you.” The men grabbed his bag, which contained two laptops and a mobile phone, and a struggle ensued. The two made off into the main concourse of St Anne’s Square, during the pursuit Largey lunged several times at the injured party with a knife.

A defence barrister told the court that tests found Largey to have an IQ of 64 and the mental age of a seven-year-old.

“It is not beyond the Pale to suggested that this is a young man who has sought the approval of his peer group by showing off,” he said.

“He was doing the dirty work for his friends and there is nobody else before the courts for these matters.”

He said Largey has had “profound drug problems” from a young age and was sniffing glue from the age of nine. He added that his drug taking was physically forced on him when at the age of eight he was “taken to a flat, tied to a chair… and forced to take drugs”. He said all of the robberies were to obtain money to buy drugs.

Largey was sentenced to a total of 15 month imprisonment and 15 months on licence for six counts of robbery, one count of attempted robbery, three counts of possession of an offensive weapon with intent, one count of possession of an offensive weapon on a public place.

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