'Dangerous' armed robber jailed

A ROBBER who was involved in three armed raids at stores in Suffolk and Norfolk has been locked up indefinitely after a judge branded him a danger to the public.

Jane Hunt

A ROBBER who was involved in three armed raids at stores in Suffolk and Norfolk has been locked up indefinitely after a judge branded him a danger to the public.

Two of the robberies were at the same Co-op store in Brantham in December 2005 and November 2007 and the third premises to be targeted was a post office in Harleston, Norfolk, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

During the first raid at Brantham three members of staff were confronted by two men wearing balaclavas. One of the robbers was armed with a loaded shotgun and shop assistant Daniel Atkins was forced to open the till and safe after being prodded in the face with the weapon.


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On that occasion the robbers escaped in a stolen car with £3,700 said Peter Gair, prosecuting.

Nearly two years later the store was targeted again and on this occasion three men entered the store wielding a baseball bat, a shotgun and a crowbar.

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Members of staff were told to get down on the floor while a male member of staff was ordered to open the safe.

The shotgun was pointed at a woman assistant while one of the robbers demanded money from the till before they escaped with a total of £1,300 in a stolen car.

Before the court yesterday was Solomon Eastwood, 37, of West Meadows, Ipswich. He admitted being involved in three armed robberies and related firearms offences.

Passing an indeterminate sentence for public protection Judge John Devaux described the robberies as “professionally planned” and said that small and vulnerable businesses had been targeted.

He said in his opinion there was a significant risk to the public of serious injury by the commission of further offences by Eastwood in the future and he said he would not be considered for parole until he had served at least six years behind bars less 126 days he has already spent in custody.

Eastwood would then only be released when he was no longer considered to be a danger to the public.

After the case senior investigating officer Det. Ch. Insp. Neil Luckett described Eastwood as a “dangerous criminal”.

He paid tribute to the victims of the raids and witnesses who were present when the offences took place. “They went through a frightening experience but supported the investigation throughout,” he said.

“This conviction and sentence should be a reminder to those individuals in these types of offences that Suffolk is not a soft target.”

Mr Gair said the first robbery at Brantham took place at about 8.15 pm on December 5 2005. He said that three members of staff were present including Daniel Atkins who later told police he had been too scared to push the panic button in case he got shot.

One of the robbers came behind the counter to the till area and pointed a gun directly at Mr Atkins. After forcing him to open the till he was taken to an office area where the safe was kept. “As the robbers asked for the keys the gun was prodded into his left cheek,” said Mr Gair.

The two robbers were seen to run from the store to a getaway car driven by Eastwood.

The second robbery took place at a post office in Harleston, Norfolk on November 10 2006. On that occasion three men with their faces covered entered the premises and one of them held an axe at the face of an elderly customer while demanding; “Give me the money or I'll kill him.”

The robbers had then used axes to smash a glass partition before escaping with £7,694.

Glass from the post office was later found on shoes belonging to Eastwood.

Mr Gair said that during the second raid at Brantham Co-op on November 1 2007 staff were told to get on the floor while a male member of staff was taken to a staff room. Witnesses feared that a gun had been discharged after hearing the sound of glass bottles smashing.

Employee Jay Nixon had a shotgun pointed at her and was told “Give me the money.” She scanned in a packet of sweets to open the till and the robbers escaped with a total of £1300 in a stolen car.

Eastwood admitted being the getaway driver on that occasion.

Sarah Vine for Eastwood said he had been involved in the world of drugs for some time. “People will do almost anything when they are in the grip of drug addiction,” she said.

She said her client had been the getaway driver and was not the main organiser.

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