Two men jailed for 32 years after attempting to rob security staff at Tesco with gun

L-R Karl Lawrence and Thomas Knight Picture: ESSEX POLICE

L-R Karl Lawrence and Thomas Knight Picture: ESSEX POLICE - Credit: Archant

Two men who threatened security staff with a gun at a Tesco store have been jailed to 32 years in total.

Tony Turner, 39, of no fixed address and Karl Lawrence, 32, of Walderslade Road, Chatham, who changed his name to Thomas Knight, denied attempting to rob two security officers at the Tesco supermarket, on the Brook Retail Park in Clacton in January 2017.

It was alleged that the two men, wearing masks, threatened cash management security staff with a gun and demanded they handed over the money they were depositing into nearby cash machines.

During the attempt, one of the men fired two gunshots between the security officers, but thankfully, the bullets were blanks.

Despite a constant threat from the two men, the security staff managed to stay out of danger, however the barrel of the gun was temporarily trapped between doors dividing the security officers and the two men. The firearm was once again discharged, causing no damage or injury.

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The two men left empty handed and were seen by witnesses driving away in a silver Volvo, which was later recovered by officers.

A scientific examination of the Volvo, which was identified as having been stolen from a car dealership in Crawley earlier that month, indicated that DNA profiles found belonged to that of Turner and Lawrence.

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Detectives continued to investigate the crime, analysing CCTV, number plate recognition cameras and mobile phones.

Based on the evidence gathered, the Crown Prosecution Service authorised charges of attempted robbery and having an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence.

Turner and Lawrence were summonsed to appear at Colchester Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 but Lawrence failed to appear and was subsequently arrested in Chatham, Kent on Thursday, November 14 2019.

Despite their denial, a jury found Turner and Lawrence guilty of both offences at Chelmsford Crown Court today, Wednesday 19 February.

On Monday 18 May, Tony Turner was given an 18 year prison sentence, plus an additional four years to be served on licence for attempted robbery and a further six years for having an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, to run concurrently.

Karl Lawrence was sentenced to 14 years in prison for attempted robbery and a further four years for having an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, to run concurrently.

Investigating officer Detective Sergeant Sarah Winn from Essex Police said: “This was a very distressing experience for the two security officers and I would like to again commend their bravery.

“Turner and Lawrence went to extreme lengths to threaten the two men.

“They took a gun with them to intimidate the security officers and scare them into handing over a substantial sum of money.

“The victims didn’t know the gun had blank bullets and to them, the threat to their lives was very real.

“I’m delighted that the jury listened to the evidence presented, understood the severity of the crime and convicted these two individuals who are now paying the price for their actions.”

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