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Turkish national jailed for spate of robberies

A 23-year-old Turkish national from the north was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison by Nicosia criminal court on Monday after pleading guilty to 16 charges relating to robbery and firearm possession.

Following his arrest in July, the Turkish national had admitted to the police that he had committed a number of break-ins and thefts in Nicosia during the last three months, and gave the names of three other people with whom he conspired for the carrying out of the crimes.

Police have so far identified two of the three accomplices, and have issued warrants for their arrest.

Police had suspected that the 23-year-old, who was arrested on July 17 in Dhali in connection to a spate of robberies in the area, was linked to a gang of Turkish Cypriots.

In mitigations, his defence lawyer stressed his youth, the difficulties he faced growing up due to his father’s alcohol abuse, and the continuing difficulties he faced with drug abuse as an adult which had led to two prison sentences in the north.

The court considered these as mitigating factors, in addition to his immediate admittance of guilt and cooperation with the authorities.

“We have especially taken into consideration his cooperation with the police and his assistance in investigating the cases against him, by naming his accomplices for whom arrest warrants have been issued, differentiating in this way his position from theirs,” the court said.

On July 17, the 23-year-old was crossing to the government-controlled areas with his vehicle but had the headlights switched off at around 2.20am.

Police followed him as he drove towards the Dhali area in Nicosia but when he got out of the vehicle, officers began to chase him. Upon realising he was being followed he threw away a loaded pistol and mobile phone which were later seized as evidence, police said.

The suspect was arrested and immediately admitted his involvement in six robberies between April and July this year. He broke into petrol stations, car sales premises and a café.

The police knew that he was not working alone in the cases against him as there had been some 40 robberies in the Dhali and Nisou areas in those months, which the police believed to be linked.

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