A FATHER exploited loyalist flag rioting to rob a garage and gain cash for his son's birthday, a court has heard.
James Boreland is accused of entering the filling station in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim armed with a glass bottle seconds after a group of men kicked in the front doors.
Staff at the Centra store were threatened into handing over £200 to the masked raider, prosecutors said.
Boreland (24), of Ardmillan Drive, Newtownabbey, faces a charge of robbery on January 4.
The High Court heard how the premises on O'Neill Road were attacked during dis-order linked to the decision to limit the flying of the Union flag at Belfast City Hall.
Just after those responsible left the scene a man with a scarf over his face entered and carried out the robbery.
David McClean, prosecuting, said CCTV footage shows it was Boreland, who was wearing the same clothing as a legitimate customer earlier that day.
He was arrested and admitted carrying out the robbery, according to the lawyer.
Opposing bail, Mr McClean said: "He stated he had robbed the premises to get money for his son's birthday coming up in the next few weeks.
"He has taken advantage of the public order situation to [carry out] the robbery."
Defence barrister Richard McConkey accepted there was no presumption of innocence in the case.
"He's been very frank during the course of his interviews with police," the lawyer said.
"He offered a full apology to the extent police thanked him for his cooperation.
"The offence was opportunistic, consistent with someone who was in the shop earlier and didn't even change his clothing before going back in."
Bail was granted due to the perceived exceptional circumstances of the case.
Mr Justice Treacy said his decision took into account the robbery being opportunistic and Boreland's subsequent apology.
The accused was banned from going near the filling station and electronically tagged.
He was also prohibited from wearing any scarf or hoodie which could disguise his identity.