Armed robber jailed for 8 years

AN ARMED robber who was part of a gang that terrorised shopkeepers in early evening raids at two Suffolk convenience stores has been jailed for eight years.

Jane Hunt

AN ARMED robber who was part of a gang that terrorised shopkeepers in early evening raids at two Suffolk convenience stores has been jailed for eight years.

In the first raid at the Newmart shop in Newmarket Alan Loveridge and two balaclava-clad accomplices escaped empty-handed after two members of staff refused to be intimidated by the presence of a shotgun and stood up to the robbers.

After the robbers smashed their way into the premises in Studlands Park through a locked door shortly after closing time shopkeeper Hussain Miah picked up a baseball bat while his colleague Kamal Hussain tired to defend the till area by picking up a stool, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

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Mr Hussain suffered a 3cm gash on his head after he was struck with a weapon by one of the robbers, said John Farmer, prosecuting.

He described the raid as “short and brutal” and said the robbers had escaped empty-handed due to the “forthright courage” of the shop staff.

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Mr Farmer told the court that shortly before the raid the robbers had stolen a Ford Sierra car several hundred yards away from the Newmart store and had used this to drive to the scene of the next robbery at Barrow shortly afterwards.

On this occasion the robbers were seen by “astonished” members of the public to park the Ford Sierra in Petticoat Lane before bursting into the Londis store as Yogesh Patel and Alpesh Patel were about to close the premises for the night.

During the raid one of the shopkeepers had unsuccessfully tried to hide �550 he was holding in his hand while one of the robbers had jumped on a counter and pointed a gun at the head of his colleague.

The gang had escaped with �2,200.

In a statement read to the court Yogesh Patel described the fear he felt during the raid and said he had hurt his back after being pushed over by one of the robbers. He said the incident had had a lasting effect on him.

Loveridge, now 43, of Rede Way, Great Cornard admitted robbery, attempted robbery and two offences of possessing a shotgun during the robberies. The offences were committed in November 2006.

Passing an eight year jail term for public protection with an extended licence period of three years Judge Peter Thompson said the robberies had been very frightening for the victims and were aggravated by the presence of a shotgun.

He said it was plain that the style he and his accomplices had adopted was designed to terrify shop staff.

David Pickersgill for Loveridge said he had expressed remorse for his involvement in the offences.

At the time he had been a heroin addict and had become involved in the raids because he was short of money.

He said Loveridge was now heroin free.

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