20th Oct, 2020

Member of armed gang which raided Coventry bank with axe jailed - after found hiding under laundry

Editorial Correspondent 30th Sep, 2019 Updated: 30th Sep, 2019

A MEMBER of an axe-wielding gang who stormed a Coventry bank has been jailed for 16 years after police found him hiding under laundry.

Peter Windle, 30, was one of three men who attacked a branch of Barclays in Fletchamstead Highway, Tile Hill, on April 26 last year and made off with a cash box containing thousands of pounds.

The gang struck at 11.30am with Windle keeping open the automatic door entrance while co-conspirator Jonathan Copson brandished an axe at a G4S security guard.

A third man acted as a getaway driver who drove the pair away from the scene, speeding through red lights, in a stolen Ford Fiesta.

West Midlands Police tracked the men to Heathcote Street, in Radford, shortly after the raid.

CCTV filmed them discussing their plans ahead of the robbery and returning afterwards. In the Fiesta,  abandoned the following day in Deerhurst Road, police found the empty, damaged cash box on the rear seats.

A warrant was executed at an address in Heathcote Street on April 28.

Clothing matching that worn by the gang members was recovered, plus balaclavas, and a red-handled axe. Officers also prised up floor tiles near a washing machine they suspected may be covered in traces of forensic marking material from the cash box.

The balaclava was later forensically examined and returned a DNA hit to 30-year-old Windle, while forensic marking found on the fingers of the gloves and the axe matched the unique DNA code released by the cash box when it was forced open.

Copson was arrested on May 9 but Windle went on the run and evaded capture for several months.

But he was eventually arrested at another address in Heathcote Street on December 11 where officers found him buried under a heap of clothing in a bedroom.

His phone was examined and also placed him near the bank at the time of the robbery.

West Midlands Police charged him with robbery and at Leamington Justice Centre, on Friday September 20, he was jailed for 16 years having admitted involvement.

Another man, 36-year-old Jonathan Copson, of no fixed address, was jailed for 13-and-a-half years in 2018 for his part in the raid. Police are still trying to trace the getaway driver.

Investigating officer, detective sergeant Gareth Mitchell, said: “This was a terrifying ordeal for the security guard. Copson rushed at him with an axe held over his head and motioned to bring it down on him.

“Thankfully no-one was hurt but understandably he was badly shaken.

“We quickly identified and recovered the getaway car and identified our suspects…both of who have now been handed very lengthy jail terms.

“The cash taken from the security box was never recovered but most if not all would have been rendered worthless as the notes would have been covered in dye released by the box when they prised it open.”

A third man was arrested and charged but later freed by a court after the charges were dropped.

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