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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Carlisle security van robber jailed for 15 years

A member of a gang who carried out a terrifying daylight raid on a security van in Central Avenue, Harraby, Carlisle, has been jailed for 15 years.

Dramatic pictures released today reveal the brutality involved in the heist, in which a mob from Liverpool stole £370,000.

One of the gang, Lee Hickman, 24, was yesterday jailed for 15 years for his part in both this crime and another in Longton, Lancashire.

Two other members of the gang will be sentenced on Monday.

The thieves wore Halloween masks and wielded crow bars when they raided the van outside a Co-op store last November.

One of the guards was hurt, but not seriously injured.

The gang struck just after 9am, frightening parents returning from the school run as some of the thugs made their escape in a getaway car.

The raid prompted rapid police action that led to a dramatic car chase through the streets of Carlisle.

 Pictures released by Cumbria Police following Hickman’s sentence show one of the hooded robbers grappling with a security guard on the ground outside the Central Avenue shops. The guard is left lying on the ground.

Then a high-speed police chase takes place through the streets of Carlisle. The getaway car is seen driving down Botchergate being pursued by police.

 It jumps red lights and, at one point outside Cassa, the car drives on the wrong side of the road. It then drives down Lowther Street and eventually ends up on Castle Way heading west.

Some of the CCTV footage shows the offenders following the security van down the ‘Bus only’ lane on Lowther Street before the robbery took place.

Hickman, of Grovehurst Avenue, Alan Roberts, 25, of Lisburn Lane and Steven Hender, 23, of Barkers Close – all in Liverpool – all pleaded guilty to robbery in relation to the Carlisle raid at Preston Crown Court earlier this year.

They appeared via video link before the same court again yesterday for sentence, although this was delayed in the cases of the latter two men.

Hickman had also admitted conspiracy to rob in relation to a crime in Longton carried out in June last year.

Francis McEntee, prosecuting, told the court there were sightings of three cars travelling in convoy before the Harraby robbery happened, causing some disruption as they tried to stay together going through Carlisle city centre.

The security van had travelled to Central Avenue, where guards were putting money into a cashpoint.

As one guard returned to the van, he began to take his helmet off and he was grabbed by someone who said: “Give us the money.”

The court heard the guard was hit and dragged to the ground.

Mr McEntee said: “He was aware of three men, all ‘masked up’ with crow bars or wrecking bars.”

The guard bravely grappled with his attacker, who headbutted him and hit him with a bar.

Hickman, the prosecution said, jumped into the back of the van and made his way through the vehicle. One of the gang stood in front of the van, “passing out” containers of cash and throwing them into the street.

One of the raiders, Roberts, did not manage to get into a getaway car. He was arrested nearby, said Mr McEntee.

A getaway car was later found abandoned in countryside after the police chase.

The court heard Hickmen and Hender were arrested nearby.

Most of the cash in the Carlisle robbery was recovered. In the raid in Longton in which Hickman was involved, a security guard was stabbed in the thigh.

This too had happened as a delivery was made to a cash point.

Hickman had previously appeared 24 times before the courts.

He was out of jail on licence from a previous jail sentence at the time of the Lancashire crime – and was on bail for this offence when he targeted Carlisle.
 

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