A WOMAN who acted as the lookout for a gang who robbed guards of £76,000 in cash at a Coventry petrol station and a man who took part in a raid at a supermarket have been jailed.
Charlene Shaw and Thomas Bruce had both denied conspiring to commit robberies, but were found guilty following a trial at Warwick Crown Court in July.
Three members of the gang, who carried out three violent robberies in the space of three months, were given long jail terms last month, but Shaw and Bruce had their cases adjourned.
And at their resumed hearing Shaw (39) of Allen Close, Hinckley, was jailed for five years.
But Bruce (29) of St Columbas Close, Coventry, was given an extended prison sentence of 14 years in jail, of which he will have to serve at least two-thirds, and will then be on licence for the rest of the term and for an additional four years, after the judge classed him as a dangerous offender.
Of the raids Shaw and Bruce were involved in, prosecutor Edward Hollingsworth said the first robbery in the conspiracy was at the Co-op store in Stretton, near Burton-on-Trent, shortly after staff had arrived for work at around 6am on February 20.
The previous evening Marcus Cohen and Bruce, met up with Ashley Bell and others at the Britannia Hotel in Coventry before travelling to Stretton.
Bell, Cohen, Bruce and another man then burst into the shop, masked and armed with crowbars and an axe, and female staff members were bound with cable ties.
Bell and Cohen took the manager to an office and ordered him to open the safe from which they stole £13,000 in cash before making off with the money, stamps and other goods.
Bruce remained to guard the rest of the staff, binding most of them with cable ties.
But Mr Hollingsworth pointed out that one female staff member suffered a panic attack, and Bruce considerately did not tie her up and got her a drink of water before he and the others fled with their haul.
The second robbery, in which Shaw was involved, was at the Texaco garage in Black Prince Avenue, Cheylesmore, as two cash in transit guards arrived to restock an ATM machine on March 6.
Bell had obtained a Ford Puma and used that and his own Mini with false number plates for a surveillance operation at the garage, in which Shaw, Cohen and Connor Sanderson took part.
On the day of the robbery Shaw, who was Cohen’s partner at the time, acted as lookout, keeping watch as the two guards took cash boxes into a rear room.
She tipped off the team as the last box was being taken in, remaining at the scene to alert them if the police turned up as the four men carrying out the actual robbery moved in armed with weapons including an axe.
One of the guards who was in the room was hit in the face, breaking his nose and cheekbone, and the other was grabbed as he made his way in with a cash box and was hit to the helmet with the axe before they escaped with a total of £76,000.
And afterwards Shaw brazenly went to the garage acting concerned in a bid to establish just what the victims would be able to tell the police about the gang.
At the hearing last month the court heard that Bell, Cohen and two other men were also involved in a third robbery at the Co-op store in Shepshed, Leics, on May 10.
Sentencing Shaw and Bruce, Judge Antony Potter told them: “You know this was a conspiracy that was put into effect, and both of you were involved in an individual robbery which was one of the three carried out.
“It is quite plain these were commercial robberies which had the hallmarks of professional planning and execution.
“On each occasion those actually carrying out the robberies were careful to wear gloves and disguises, and weapons including an axe were used.
“It is clear to me that Bell and Cohen were involved at the organising part of the robberies, and neither of you played such a leading role.
“You Bruce were recruited for the first robbery, and you were well aware what your involvement would entail. You were responsible for the staff who were cable-tied, although I accept you showed some compassion.
“You Shaw were involved in the Texaco robbery. I am quite satisfied you appreciated the full nature of the operation and the role you were expected to play.
“Afterwards you cynically approached the staff to establish what they had seen and heard so you could inform Cohen what the police would be told. Yours was a trusted role.
“But I do accept you were put under pressure, and that without Mr Cohen’s involvement you would not have committed this offence.”
At the hearing last month Bell (33) of Crediton Close, Cheylesmore, Coventry, was jailed for 18 years, with a four-year extended licence period, and Cohen (39) of Allen Close, Hinckley, for 17 years, also with a four-year extended period of licence.
Sanderson (21) of Brathay Close, Coventry, was jailed for ten years and nine months, with an extended licence of three years and three months after the judge ruled that all three should be classed as dangerous offenders.