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Golf club barmen staged fake robbery; pounds 600 taken but pair are spared jail.

Byline: Neil McKay

TWO young men who had led previously blameless lives were spared jail yesterday despite staging a "ludicrous" fake golf club robbery.

Martyn Galvin, 22, a barman at Mount Oswald Golf Club, Durham, was discovered by shocked colleagues lying on the clubhouse floor gagged and bound with Sellotape.

He told them he had been attacked by masked robbers brandishing a gun and a baseball bat.

Galvin, described in court as a promising young golfer with ambitions to turn professional, claimed the robbers then escaped through a window with pounds 600 from the bar float.

Armed police, a helicopter, and sniffer dogs were sent to the scene in an attempt to track down the dangerous "gang".

But later under questioning by police, Galvin "sang like a canary" and admitted his part in the plot.

Co-accused Paul Porter, 20, who also worked at Mount Oswald as a barman, but who was off duty on the evening of the fake raid, February 19 this year, came to the club after being summonsed by a mobile phone call from Galvin when he was alone at the bar, his colleague having been sent to collect pizzas.

Porter bound and gagged his partner- in-crime before escaping through a window with the bar float. Jane Mitford, prosecuting at Durham Crown Court, said police suspicions became aroused when they discovered the "robbers" had managed to find the only one of six clubhouse windows which actually opened, and that the float was kept behind a shelf away from public view.

Porter, who was also quick to admit his part in the fake robbery when questioned, led officers to a holdall with a fake firearm which Galvin had borrowed from a friend, ski masks and some of the money. Eventually a total of pounds 390 was recovered.

Porter, of Douglas Gardens, Durham City, and Galvin, of Glaisdale Road, Yarm, Teesside, admitted theft of pounds 600 and possession of a fake firearm when they appeared before Durham Crown Court at an earlier hearing.

David Lamb, representing Galvin, said his father had died shortly before the fake robbery, and he had behaved "completely out of character".

Mr Lamb added that the prosecution would have had no idea of the existence of the fake gun had his client not "sung like a canary".

The judge, Recorder Howard Crowson, who had read glowing testimonials about both men, sentenced them each to 50 weeks' imprisonment for theft and 20 weeks for possession of a fake firearm, to run concurrently and to be suspended for 12 months.

He ordered them to carry out 200 hours' community work, to pay compensation of pounds 105 each to the golf club and pounds 430 prosecution costs.

He told them both: "The only reason we know about the firearm was because you mentioned it.

"This whole ludicrous charade could have been carried out using only Sellotape and lies.

"Now get away from this courtroom and lead productive lives."

CAPTION(S):

SANG LIKE A CANARY Martyn Galvin confessed all to police.; CO-ACCUSED Paul Porter also worked at Mount Oswald as a barman.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 23, 2008
Words:513
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