THREE robbers who raided a series of Coventry shops and post offices have been jailed for a total of 24 years after being caught in a West Midlands Police sting.
Anthony Bell, Leyton Clare and Roy Lewis attacked nine small convenience stores between October and December last year armed with an imitation handgun, hammers and machetes and stole around £10,000 in cash.
The trio were finally stopped when police cased up their next target in the Finham area of Coventry two days before Christmas.
West Midlands Police believed Bell, 28, Lewis, 21, and 19-year-old Clare were behind the crimes and their suspicions were proved right when surveillance officers monitored the gang casing a newsagents in Green Lane.
Driver Bell tried ramming his way out of a patrol car before he fled through gardens, after he had pulled into a private driveway and left Lewis and Clare to be arrested from the damaged Ford Puma.
But, Bell’s dash for freedom was short-lived when detectives picked him up at an address in Anglian Way on Christmas Eve morning.
All three initially denied their involvement but in the face of compelling evidence – including text message exchanges between them plotting the raids – they admitted conspiracy to rob and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to commit offences.
And at Warwick Crown Court on Friday (December 11) ringleader Bell, from Crediton Close in Cheylesmore, was jailed for ten years and one month while Lewis and Clare, both of no fixed address, were handed seven years and eight months and six years and ten month in prison.