A MAN alleged to have carried out armed robberies at a Warwick petrol station and a village store on the same night will not stand trial until July next year.
Michael Hackett pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of robbery and two of possessing an imitation firearm at the time of committing the offences in June.
It is alleged that Hackett, 30, of Fallow Hill, Sydenham, Leamington, first robbed a cashier at the BP service station in Stratford Road, Warwick, at gunpoint.
About half an hour later there was an identical robbery at the Co-op store in Long Itchington, again alleged to have been carried out by Hackett.
Because of the number of trials waiting to be heard at the court, Judge Stephen Eyre QC pointed out that the trial could not be listed until July next year.
He adjourned the case until then, and Hacket was granted bail, with a warning that if he fails to attend for his trial, he will be committing a further offence.
In the meantime, the get-away driver, Samuel Gold, 30, of Freshwater Grove, Leamington, is likely to be sentenced, having been convicted of all four charges following a trial last month.
During his trial prosecutor Simon Foster said that a CCTV camera at the BP garage showed a white VW Golf pull onto the forecourt of the BP garage at 8.20pm on Sunday, 15th January.
“The Golf is perfectly visible, and no less visible is the driver, who is this defendant, Samuel Gold. He gets out and goes into the garage shop.”
Gold bought something, returned to the car, and drove off before going round the block and returning to Stratford Road.
He then backed onto a grassed area which runs along the side and rear of the filling station.
Gold remained in the car while his passenger, dressed in black and with his hoodie concealing his face, went into the shop brandishing a gun in his right hand.
The robber pointed the gun at the cashier, demanding: “Clear the till out. Give us all your money. Put it in a bag.”
The cashier obeyed, ‘as well he might,’ commented Mr Foster, as the robber told him: “I don’t want to do this, but I’m in trouble.”
Not satisfied with the amount of cash he was given, he demanded cigarettes, then left with just over £200 in cash and the cigarettes, and returned to the Golf which drove off at speed.
“Jump, but not very long, to seven minutes past nine, and to the Co-op store in Long Itchington, which is about 12-and-a-half miles away, which you can do in the time.
“Again there is CCTV in that store, and enter the same man, wearing a balaclava.
“He still had the gun, and he pointed it at the two frightened assistants and said ‘I want the money.’ He ordered them to go to the till and asks for the money to be put in a bag.
“He again came across as almost apologetic, saying ‘I don’t want to do this.’ But he was pointing a gun, and once again he left with cash, about £400,” said Mr Foster.
When the police saw the CCTV recording they could make out the registration number of the Golf and spoke to its owner who revealed that he had lent it to Gold, who was then arrested.
And under the bed at his home, wrapped in a blue cloth, they found a blank-firing Walther pistol which ‘to all intents and purposes appeared to be the real thing.’
After the jury had returned its verdicts, Gold was remanded in custody for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him to consider whether he poses a danger to the public.
At the time of his trial it was said the identity of the gunman was not known – and, although co-defendants are usually dealt with together, it is expected Gold will be sentenced without waiting for the outcome of Hackett’s trial.