Robbers who rammed shopkeeper jailed - Luton

24/02/2015

Two robbers, who rammed a stolen car into a Luton shopkeeper's vehicle to snatch his takings, have today, Tuesday, 24 February 2015, been jailed for a combined total of 15 years.

Judge Stuart Bridge, sitting at Luton Crown Court, told the pair it had been a "pre planned" robbery of the shopkeeper after they had observed his movements and knew he would be driving away from his shop with the day's takings. The pair were convicted of aggravated vehicle taking and robbery. They were both cleared of possessing an imitation firearm with intent.

During the trial the jury heard how, shortly after 11pm on the night of 04 September last year, shopkeeper Ponniah Vijayarajah locked up his shop in Rockley Road, Luton and got in his car with the day's takings of £1175. He set off for home, but less than a mile away at the junction of Whipperley Ring and Ross Close, his VW Polo was rammed by the defendants who were in a stolen silver Vauxhall Astra they had taken earlier that night.

Rankin, his face hidden, got out of the car to snatch the money from the passenger seat of their victim's car and they then made their getaway in the stolen car. But they had caused more damage to their car than they intended and left a trail of leaking radiator fluid for police to follow. Police were able to follow the trail through the streets of Luton and soon found the damaged Vauxhall Astra abandoned.

Checks with the car's owner revealed it had been stolen shortly before from outside her home in Cades Close, Luton. She told police about Tull and Rankin, who had both visited her home earlier and helped her clear her spare room in which she kept a spare key to the car which had subsequently gone missing.

Not only that, but police also discovered the men had connections to a flat directly above Mr Vijayarajah's shop in Rockley Road and had regularly visited the property from which they would have been able to observe the shopkeeper's comings and goings.

Two days after the robbery the pair were arrested.

Mr Max Hardy, prosecuting, said the car the pair had stolen from Cades Close had then been used as a "battering ram" to carry out the robbery.

Victor Tull, aged 38, of Southview Close, South London, who was the driver was jailed for seven years. Daniel Rankin, aged 34, of High Street, Gosberton, Spalding, Lincs, who lept from the passenger seat to snatch the money from the victim's car and who was in breach of a suspended sentence was jailed for eight years.

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