Two West Yorkshire career criminals who robbed a convenience store of nearly £80,000 in cash have been jailed for a combined 34 years.
Anthony Hughes, 38, and Gordon Hopkins, 44, were sentenced at Burnley Crown Court on Friday after each pleading guilty to theft and possession of an offensive weapon.
The court heard how, at around 8am on September 13 last year, public transport security officer Patrick Callaghan made a routine cash deposit at the Haslingden News store in Manchester Road, Haslingden, Lancashire .
Prosecutor Stephen Parker told the court how Mr Callaghan had made three trips to the store to refill the cash machine and on the third trip noticed two men entering the store, each wearing balaclavas and both wearing weapons, one resembling a baseball bat. and one a machete.
Mr Parker said: ‘He backed off and did not engage with the defendants, and a man, who appeared to have a baseball bat, later identified as Hughes, pointed to the safe and said, ‘ open it, open it now”. ”
CCTV shown in court showed Mr Callaghan entering the store before the two defendants, Hopkins wielding a machete, entered behind him.
They could be seen walking towards the ATM and inviting the victim to step aside.
They then bent down to unload the cash from the ATM and left the store.
Mr Parker continued: ‘Police were called and the number plate of the vehicle the defendants were driving was shared between officers, as well as officers across the border in West Yorkshire.
“The car, which bore false plates and was stolen from an address in Leeds earlier this month, was eventually stopped by West Yorkshire Police, where the vehicle’s plates were again changed.
“The defendants attempted to flee the car, with Hopkins, the driver, throwing latex gloves and a balaclava into a trash can and driving through several gardens. He was later identified from the DNA of these objects.
“Hughes crossed a number of lanes of a highway and was also later identified by medical examiners.
“When the car was abandoned a total of £79,480 in cash was recovered.
“Each of the defendants was arrested and admitted to committing the theft at the earliest opportunity.”
It was understood that Mr Callaghan was due to take six weeks off following the incident and had been deeply affected by what happened that day, including suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Hughes, of Coronation Parade in Leeds, has five convictions for 11 offences, including a ten-year sentence for conspiracy to commit theft in 2001 and a nine-year sentence in 2005 for a similar offence.
Hopkins, of Spen Walk, Leeds, has 20 convictions for 137 offenses including burglary, seizure of vehicle, theft from motor vehicles, conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.
Mitigating for Hughes, Michael Greenhalgh said his client was extremely sorry for what he had done, particularly in relation to the victim, Mr Callaghan.
Timothy Jacobs, for Hopkins, said his client wanted to try to put his infraction days behind him and expressed remorse over his actions.
Condemning the pair, recorder Nicholas Clarke QC said: ‘It was a perfectly professional and carefully planned theft.
“Not only in how you were going to engage him, but also in how you hoped to get out of it.
“My first thoughts here are with the victim in this case. He is to be commended for the way he handled the situation with calm courage and a professional approach.
“It is not surprising that he suffered from PTSD and was so badly affected by this incident.
“The only way to deal with you is through an extended fixed term.”
Hughes was sentenced to 13 years and eight months, with three years and four months of extended license.
Hopkins was also sentenced to 13 years and eight months, including three years and four months of extended license.
The total sentence imposed on the two defendants was 17 years.