A ROBBER left his girlfriend accomplice behind when he fled with thousands of pounds from a shop in Wolston, after locals tried to stop them getting away.
And despite escaping with more than £3,000 from that store, Dean Brooks carried out a raid on a Coventry shop the following day.
Warwick Crown Court heard that Brooks, who had earlier carried out a burglary to steal a getaway car, and girlfriend Emma Shilcock had resorted to robbery in a desperate bid to pay off drug debts.
Brooks, 35, of Marston Lane, Bedworth, was jailed for four-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to burglary, two charges of robbery, two of theft and two of having offensive weapons.
Shilcock, 30, of no fixed address, admitted robbery, receiving stolen property, common assault, possessing an offensive weapon and possessing a bladed article, and was sentenced to two years.
Prosecutor Andrew Tucker said all the offences took place over the course of four days in February, beginning with Brooks stealing a Citroen C1 worth £10,000 from a house in Bedworth.
Tucker told the court the number plates were changed so it could be used as a getaway vehicle in the Wolston robbery.
At 6.50 in the morning on February 18, Brooks and Shilcock came into the village’s Co-op store wearing balaclavas and armed with hammers.
A ‘panicky and aggressive’ Brooks took almost £600 from the till before he and Shilcock, who also had a small knife, ordered the two women who were working there to open the safe from which they then stole £3,500.
As they tried to escape, some neighbours trapped them inside by blocking the exit with trolleys.
But Brooks hammered on the glass and threatened to attack people with the hammer if the door was not opened, and the pair fled from the store.
Brooks ran back to the stolen car and, ‘with a certain lack of gallantry,’ drove off, leaving Shilcock to escape on foot.
As the police carried out a search, she went to a house in the village where, soaking wet and claiming she was lost and had fallen in the river, she tearfully asked to use the phone.
She then left, but was found shortly afterwards hiding at nearby stables where she spat at the officer who arrested her, and was found to have £410 in cash in a Co-op bag.
The next day, Brooks carried out a similar raid at the One Stop shop in Tile Hill Drive, Coventry, taking £2,530 from the till and safe. He was arrested later that day in Bedworth with £2,870 in cash on him.
The court heard that Brooks had previous convictions for offences including burglaries, but Shilcock’s only conviction was for shoplifting, although she had a number of cautions.
Nick Devine, for Brooks, said: “He has never in his entire criminal history used violence, and he has no previous convictions for robbery.”
He said Brooks had always ‘attempted to meet the demands of his addiction to drugs’ through theft and burglary, but had not been particularly successful and his drug debts had spiralled.
“There came a point when his normal method of attempting to fund those debts was just not going to provide enough, and he took a step up. They were desperate times, and he felt desperate.”
Nicholas Aldridge, for Shilcock, said she had run up a debt of around £500 to her dealer and was told ‘in no uncertain terms’ that she needed to pay it off.
And he added: “She became involved in this plan to rob a shop. Initially Mr Brooks suggested he would go and do it, but she offered to get involved as well because it was her debt. She was very naïve and very desperate.”
But jailing the couple, Recorder Roger Evans told Shilcock: “Even if you were the more naïve, it is unrealistic to expect anything other than an immediate term of imprisonment.”