'Armed robbers foiled by £230 getaway car'

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The Independent Online

A gang of armed robbers was professional in every respect except for its curious "penny-pinching" reluctance to buy a reasonably effective getaway car, a court was told yesterday

The raid on a security van outside a post office was "gloriously planned" and appeared to have yielded a £15,000 haul. But an old, £230 Ford Sierra awaited them and when they turned the ignition the car failed to start, said Bernard Lever, for the prosecution.

"If the robbers had splashed out around £460 instead of £230 on a Sierra then [one of the gang] might not have been in the dock now and might have got away with it," Mr Lever told Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester.

"Unfortunately, they were a bit penny pinching and when the moment came for them to make their getaway from this very carefully planned robbery, this banger didn't perform its duty and it wouldn't drive off. Perhaps they should have spent a bit more money." Instead, the robbers had to flee on foot and were seenby passers-by running into a house, the court was told. Armed police surrounded the premises and two men were arrested.

Robert Carrington, 25, of Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, denied charges of robbery and possessing a firearm with intent to commit robbery at Chadderton, near Oldham.

Darren Lafferty, 26, of Paisley, near Glasgow, admitted robbery and possessing a firearm at an earlier hearing. A man suspected of being the third robber gave police the slip before they arrived at the house and has not been seen since. The court was told how one of the gang - all of whom wore masks - allegedly opened fire with a Smith and Wesson revolver to terrify two guards into handing over the money.

They fled first in a stolen car to reach the parked Sierra, before abandoning it and running into the house. It was claimed that the robbers fired three shots during the raid, which began while a security guard was being passed two bags containing 1,000 £1 coins from a colleague to take into the post office.

One shot was fired at the window of the van and another at the pavement, inches from one of the guard's feet. The trial continues.