A convicted pickaxe-handle murderer who carried out an attempted robbery of pizza delivery drivers just yards from a police station claimed he wanted to get caught because he was not “coping well with freedom”.
Keith Mawhinney (37) from the Drumtara estate in Ballymena, appeared at Antrim Crown Court in connection with an attempted hold-up at Smithfield Place close to Ballymena Police Station on the night of Friday January 22 last year.
He previously admitted charges of attempting to rob delivery drivers and a third charge of having an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery and has now been given a five year sentence, half of which he will have to serve behind bars.
Mawhinney was released from jail in 2011 on licence in relation to a brutal murder in Hartlepool.
Antrim Crown Court Judge Desmond Marrinan said the defendant told a Probation officer he carried out the Domino raid “because he was not ready to be released from custody and was not coping well with freedom”.
The court heard the weapon was an imitation which he bought at Nutt’s Corner Market.
At a previous hearing at Coleraine Magistrates Court last year a police officer said at 11pm on January 22, 2016, two delivery drivers were approached by a man in a balaclava who pointed a gun at them and demanded money but after no money was handed over he ran off.
Later, Mawhinney was stopped by police at Larne Street in Ballymena wearing a beanie hat which turned out to be a balaclava and he had a “gun” in the small of his back, the officer said.
The officer said Mawhinney was out on licence after being jailed for life along with his father for a murder in England. He said Keith Mawhinney was released from jail in 2011.
The officer said a witness had seen Mawhinney loitering around the area of Domino’s on January 22.
The brutal murder Mawhinney was involved in 19 years ago stunned Hartlepool.
Hartlepool man Anthony Clark was murdered by father and son John and Keith Mawhinney at his home in the English town in 1998.
Mawhinney was jailed in 1999 along with his dad for beating Mr Clark (33) to death with a pickaxe handle.
Mr Clark was killed in his Milton Road home after the Mawhinneys believed he had stolen a ring belonging to the dead sister of John Mawhinney s wife.
At the time of the murder, John “Jake” Mawhinney was still on licence from a 13-year prison term for loyalist paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.