Northern Ireland

Jail for Belfast man who tried to rob disguised policeman

A would-be armed robber who tried to rob a policeman posing as a security guard has been jailed for eight years.

Michael McCullagh, 56, from Donegall Street in Belfast, was part of a gang trying to rob a cash-in-transit van on Belfast's Springfield Road in 2009.

However, a police officer had taken on the role of the van guard.

When McCullagh threatened him with a small knife, other waiting officers arrested him. He admitted attempted robbery and possessing a weapon.

Belfast Crown Court heard the robbery happened less than two weeks after McCullagh had been released from jail, where he had been serving time for another robbery.

Judge Gordon Kerr told him although he was getting maximum credit for "facing up" at the earliest opportunity, his record, the offence itself and the fact that it came so soon after his release were "significant aggravating factors".

A defence lawyer said that while McCullagh did not make a defence of duress, he had been on a "five day drink and drug binge" which left him in debt to the people who had planned the robbery, adding that "he was more a soldier than an organiser".