Teenager is convicted of murdering woman in jewellery raid

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The Independent Online

A teenager has been convicted of the murder of a jeweller who was shot dead as she tried to protect her daughter during an armed raid.

A teenager has been convicted of the murder of a jeweller who was shot dead as she tried to protect her daughter during an armed raid.

Peter Williams, 19, was found guilty of killing Marian Bates, 64, during the raid at the Time Centre in Arnold, Nottingham, on 30 September 2003, even though he was not the gunman. It was also reported that Williams had removed an electronic tag imposed upon his release from a young offender's institute just before the killing, but the breach was not picked up.

A jury at Stafford Crown Court took 11 hours to find him guilty of murder, causing the victim's husband, Victor Bates, grievous bodily harm with intent, possessing a firearm with intent and conspiracy to rob.

The court heard that Williams and the gunman entered the shop wearing motorcycle helmets. The gunman ­ named during the trial as James Brodie, 21 ­ pointed the weapon at Mrs Bates while Williams robbed the store. Mrs Batesstepped in front of her daughter, Xanthe, 35, in an "instinctive act of bravery". Xanthe was on the telephone speaking to her husband when the gunman turned his weapon on her and told her: "This is an armed robbery." She did nothing and was "paralysed with fear", the court heard. Mrs Bates moved forward quickly, her arms outstretched, shouting "No". It was then that Mrs Bates was shot. Police said the gunman called his victim a "silly cow" as she fell to the floor.

Mr Bates then picked up a fencing sword to stop the men from escaping, but was beaten to the ground by Williams, who then helped the gunman escape.

After the case, it emerged Williams should have been electronically tagged on the day of the killing after his release on licence from Olney Young Offenders' Institution three weeks earlier. But he is thought to have removed the tag a week before the murder and had also missed seven out of 11 meetings with Nottingham Youth Offending Team. The breach of his bail was not detected by Premier, the private security firm responsible for monitoring his moves.

The jury was not told Williams had admitted a part in the raid to Detective Inspector Anthony Webster and identified one of his two co-defendants, Craig Moran. Det Insp Webster failed to record the interview in January last year, causing it to be deemed inadmissible as evidence. The officer wept at a pre-trial hearing as he admitted pocket- book irregularities and "numerous" other errors during the investigation. "I didn't believe he [Williams] was a suspect, but I believe that I should have believed he was a suspect," he said. Moran and a third co-defendant, Dean Betton, smirked at his discomfort.

Betton and Moran, both 23, were also found guilty of plotting to rob. Lisa Unwin, 23, was convicted of conspiring to pervert the course of justice by providing a false alibi for Moran, who was guilty of the same charge.

Mr Bates, 66, who left the jewellers' this year after a further attempted theft, sat in the public gallery with his head bowed as the verdicts were delivered.

Brodie, who was named in court as the prime suspect, vanished within days of the shooting and police believe he may have been killed in a gangland-style "execution". He is suspected of a string of violent attacks and armed robberies before the murder of Mrs Bates, including one in which a lone gunman is believed to have carried the same weapon that was used to kill the jeweller.

Sentencing on Williams and Unwin was adjourned pending psychiatric and pre-sentence reports respectively. Betton and Moran will be sentenced today.