Two men jailed for Clifton garage robbery - Luton


A woman working alone in a village petrol station grappled with a robber who was trying to snatch cash from her till. She pulled his hair and held on to him but, during the struggle, he toppled over the counter and landed on top of her, a court has heard.

The woman, 27 year old Rasika Yakanwala, told police she no longer works alone at the garage in Clifton, Beds, and had feared for her life at the time.

Before Luton Crown Court on Friday, 20 December 2013, were Manny Buckland, 39, and his friend Stuart Battams, 41, both of no fixed address.

Prosecutor David Stanton said, the pair were driven to the small village on 27 May this year, which was a Bank Holiday.  Their first target was the convenience store with a post office counter. Buckland went inside with a scarf over his face and Battams acted as the look out.  Buckland tried to snatch cash from a till, but was grabbed and pushed away by a male assistant. He struggled out of his jacket and left empty handed.

They next turned their attention to the garage just 500 yards away, and at first Battams remained outside.  Again Buckland tried to reach over the counter and grab money from the till, which is when the struggle began. Mrs Yakanwala, who owns the garage with her husband, grabbed the notes to stop him getting them.  But they became scattered on the floor and he managed to scoop up between £500 and £600. While they were on the ground, Battams came in and stole six bottles of alcohol, said Mr Stanton.  The event was caught on CCTV cameras and the pair were arrested the following day.

A woman friend, who was driving the car was cleared by a jury earlier this month of being involved in the criminality.

Buckland pleaded guilty to robbery and burglary and was jailed for three years. He was on a community order at the time, imposed just six days before the offences.

Battams pleaded guilty to two charges of burglary and was jailed for two years. He was recently out of prison having been jailed a year ago for thefts of charity boxes.

Lawyers for both men said they had entrenched problems with cocaine and alcohol and had been before courts many times before. But they said they were dealing with their addictions while they have been on remand in prison.

Judge Philip Bartle QC said: "These were two small establishments targeted by the two of you over a holiday period at 5pm, the likelihood being that there would be few if any customers.

"There was an element of planning and disguise. Whether or not you were on drink or drugs is not mitigation and you both have very bad records."

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