20th Oct, 2017

Coventry convict on the run took part in foiled 'robbery' plot before fleeing to Portugal

Coventry Editorial 21st Jul, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A COVENTRY convict on the run from prison hatched a foiled Co-op store ‘robbery’ plot before fleeing the country and taking part in kidnap and torture.

Terence McGurk, 37, from Henley Green, Coventry, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal at Warwick Crown Court.

After the plan failed, McGurk was involved in the kidnap and torture of a man over a drugs debt in Portugal.

Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said that in September 2007 McGurk had been jailed for six years for his part in a daring raid at a NatWest cash handling centre in Tamworth.

He and other men including Karl Powell had used a stolen skip lorry to smash through the wall before escaping with £1.3 million.

Then in August 2009 he and the others were given three-year extensions to their sentences after failing to pay Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation orders of £256,000 each.

In October that year, McGurk was allowed out of HMP Hewell prison for a ‘resettlement release’ of five nights – and failed to return to the jail.

While on the run, McGurk and three co-conspirators including Powell, who had also absconded from prison, ‘came up with a plan of stealing money from a security van’ collecting money from a Co-op store in Bishops Itchington, Warwickshire.

Mr Grieves-Smith said ‘the driver of the (security) van was a willing participant,’ although she was later acquitted.

The Co-op store manager heard a scream after she had handed over the shop takings, and then saw a masked man getting out of the security van and into a car.

Four days later McGurk’s blue Subaru with two men in it twice drove past the Co-op in Harbury, and the next day the car was seen outside the home in Warwick Road, Coventry, of one of the other conspirators.

On December 7 there was more coming and going of cars between that address and Harbury, while one car, a Mercedes, drove past the security van to check its progress after it had made a collection in Fenny Compton.

After the takings from the Harbury store had been transferred to the van in a cash box at 5pm, under the watchful eye of members of the gang, it was tailed as it drove away.

Then on the A423, a Ford Focus pulled in front of the van and appeared to force it to stop before a man got out and, in a pretend robbery, smashed one of the van windows.

He was allowed into the van, but it stalled and the ‘robber’ returned to the car empty-handed.

The Focus and another car used in the plot were later found abandoned in Wolston.

McGurk was linked to the conspiracy after his DNA was found on a mask in the Focus – but he had fled to Portugal where in 2012 he was jailed for eight years.

One of the gang, Charles Cunningham, was arrested after police found him in a swimming pool at the Warwick Road address, and Powell and Gary Taylor were later arrested.

Powell was later jailed for three-and-a-half years and the other two for three years after they were found guilty of conspiracy to steal following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

When McGurk was arrested after being returned from Portugal to serve the rest of his sentence in this country, he admitted his role in the security van conspiracy, added Mr Grieves-Smith.

Recorder Stuart Sprawson adjourned the case for McGurk’s prison release dates to be checked.

The court will consider whether a sentence should be ‘concurrent’ – to run alongside his current prison sentences for other crimes, or ‘consecutive’ – which would add more time in jail.

McGurk was remanded in custody.

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