September 29th, 2016

Armed robbery gang who struck at Coventry off-licence jailed

TWO masked men who robbed shop staff at knifepoint have been given shorter prison sentences that their lookout and getaway driver.

Kai Flynn and Shane McPherson had pleaded guilty to the robbery, but accomplices Daniel Aspinall and Sarah Claridge were convicted by a Warwick Crown Court jury after denying the charge.

Claridge (41) of George Hodgkinson Close, Tile Hill, Coventry, and Aspinall (22) of Maureen Close, Canley, Coventry, were both jailed for four years and three months.

Flynn (29) of Jardine Crescent, Tile Hill, Coventry, and McPherson (27) of Capmartin Road, Coventry, were told their sentences would have been five years after a trial.

But Judge Alan Parker said they were entitled to a third off for their early guilty pleas – and passed sentences of three years and four months on them.

Prosecutor Simon Rippon said in August last year Claridge was captured by CCTV cameras as she went into the Bargain Booze store in Station Avenue, Tile Hill, at 9.25pm to ‘scope it out’.

She then left, and a few minutes later masked robbers, Flynn and McPherson, entered.

One brandished a dumb-bell bar the other, a hunting knife.

They grabbed £466 from the till, cigarettes a a bottle of Southern Comfort in front of two frightened members of staff.

They and Aspinall, who looked out outside, ran down an alleyway to where Claridge was waiting for them in her green Vauxhall Corsa.

She drove them to her home, where the three men changed out of the clothes they had worn for the robbery.

They were arrested later at the Peeping Tom pub where they were caught on camera as they ordered drinks and McPherson counted out £1 coins on the bar.

The weapons and their clothes were found at Claridge’s home.

Claridge claimed during the trial she had not been involved in the robbery and did not know what Flynn and McPherson were planning to do as she waited for them to go to the shop.

Mr Rippon said Claridge had old convictions for offences including burglary and theft; Aspinall was on licence at the time from a five-year sentence for wounding with intent; Flynn’s previous convictions included one for robbery; and McPherson had convictions for thefts and assaults.

Rebecca Wade, defending Claridge, said Claridge was suffering from depression at the time, but Judge Parker asked: “How does being depressed drive you to being a getaway driver for a robbery?”

Justin Jarmola, for Aspinall, said he did not go into the shop and had played ‘a more peripheral role.’

Jailing the four, Judge Parker told them: “You were all engaged in a joint enterprise to rob an off-licence very close to closing time when you thought the profits would produce a substantial amount of money.

“Two of you were armed with weapons which were used to menace one of the shop assistants.

“Miss Claridge, you were the getaway driver.  You had a trial because you were not prepared to be truthful about your responsibility, and you have continued to lie about it.

“Aspinall, your position is particularly serious because you played your role having been released on licence from a sentence of five years for wounding with intent.

“Flynn and McPherson, you of course were the two who were wearing balaclavas and went into the off-licence and made the menaces in circumstances which were terrifying.”

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