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Court hears hoodie-wearing shop robber brandished ’25 centimetre long’ kitchen knife at staff

A hoodie-wearing robber who stole £380 during a hold-up at a Centra store in Limavady was clutching a kitchen knife up to 25 centimetres long, Coleraine Magistrates Court heard on Monday.

Brandon Steele (19), of Glenbeg Walk in Limavady, is accused of robbing the shop at Ballyquin Road on Saturday.

A PSNI detective constable said he believed he could connect the accused to the charge and objected to bail.

The officer said a suspect carrying a knife and wearing a hoodie with the hood up pulled the draw strings on it as he approached two members of staff.

The robber had a “large kitchen knife between 20-25 centimetres” in length and he demanded money.

While he was clearing a till and he was no longer holding onto the the draw strings the robber’s face became partially clear and a member of staff said they recognised Steele, the police officer said.

The policeman said the robber was not wearing gloves and CCTV showed that as the robber entered the store their face was not fully covered at that stage.

The officer objected to bail on the the grounds that there could be a risk of offending and interference with witnesses.

The detective constable said the money or the knife had not been recovered.

The court heard the defendant’s mother brought him to police when it emerged officers were looking for him and that during a PSNI interview he denied being involved.

Defence solicitor Paddy McGurk said Steele “vehemently” denied involvement and took issue with the police case.

The lawyer said there were “serious deficits” regarding identification and said the defendant would consent to taking part in an identification procedure.

Mr McGurk said the second shop assistant had not identified the Steele.

The court heard the accused – a father of an eight month old child – had 18 previous convictions, mostly for driving offences, and had nothing of a “dishonest” nature.

The lawyer said a bail address was available some four miles from Limavady.

Mr McGurk said the defendant’s mother, brother and partner were in court and they were “horrified” at the matter.

District Judge Peter King refused bail saying the defendant had last been at court on June 3 and the allegations related to June 8.

The judge said the allegation was that a convenience store was robbed at knifepoint and Steele was allegedly recognised by a member of staff.

He said it was not a suitable case for bail at this stage but said that could change if the knife was recovered and the bail address was changed.

Steele was remanded in custody to appear back at the court in July via video link.

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