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Armed robber jailed for 20 years for Asda store raid

PUBLISHED: 16:22 24 May 2019 | UPDATED: 16:24 24 May 2019

Stephen Smith, formerly known as Stevie Atkins, has been jailed for 20 years Picture: ESSEX POLICE

Stephen Smith, formerly known as Stevie Atkins, has been jailed for 20 years Picture: ESSEX POLICE

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A shotgun-wielding robber who stole £235,000 in cash following a raid on a security van in Essex has been jailed for 20 years.

The scene of the armed robbery at Asda in Witham in December 2016 Pictures: Chris MyersThe scene of the armed robbery at Asda in Witham in December 2016 Pictures: Chris Myers

Stephen Smith, formerly known as Stevie Atkins, was one of three men who took part in the armed robbery at the Asda store in Highfields, Witham, on December 14, 2016.

During a trial, Chelmsford Crown Court heard how two security guards had stopped at the supermarket to refill an ATM around 8.30am.

Two men wearing balaclavas, and armed with a double-barrelled shotgun, robbed the guards - with one forced onto his knees while the other was ordered to remove money from the security van.

The men then made off in a BMW 4x4 driven by an accomplice.

The scene of the raid at Asda in Witham in December 2016 Pictures: Chris MyersThe scene of the raid at Asda in Witham in December 2016 Pictures: Chris Myers

A BMW X6, with false plates, was found abandoned in Speedwell Close, Witham, around 9.45am and was identified as having been stolen during a burglary in Tiptree earlier in the year.

It was also covered in petrol and a lighter was found at the scene, leading detectives to believe there had been attempts to set it on fire.

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DNA found on the vehicle was linked to Smith.

Stephen Smith has been jailed for 20 years for his role in the raid on a security van at Asda in Witham Pictures: Chris MyersStephen Smith has been jailed for 20 years for his role in the raid on a security van at Asda in Witham Pictures: Chris Myers

Smith was discovered in Spain and a combined investigation by Essex Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the National Crime Agency saw him arrested on May 8, 2018, and extradited back to the UK.

Smith, 37, of Calle Carajima, Mijas, Malaga, was charged with robbery and having a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence.

He denied the charges but was found guilty and sentenced today following a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

He received 16 years for robbery and four years for possession of a firearm, meaning he was jailed for a total of 20 years.

Joe Turner, of Dagenham, was jailed for 15 years for security van hold-up at Asda, Witham in July last year Picture: ESSEX POLICEJoe Turner, of Dagenham, was jailed for 15 years for security van hold-up at Asda, Witham in July last year Picture: ESSEX POLICE

Temporary Ds Sarah Winn, investigating officer, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "Stevie Smith thought he could evade justice by going to Spain but, thanks to some excellent partnership work between us, the NCA, CPS and Spanish authorities, he has now been made to face up to his crimes.

"The length of his sentence reflects the extremely serious nature of the crime he committed."

Another man, Joe Turner, 31, of Dagenham was jailed for 15 years in connection with robbery in July last year.

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