Robbery gang members jailed

Five people have been jailed for a total of 26 years for their part in a series of robberies.

Five members of a robbery gang that targeted Co-op stores and Ladbroke betting shops have been jailed for a total of more than 26 years.

Luton Crown Court heard that various members of the six-strong gang committed nine robberies and one attempted robbery in a three-month period at the beginning of 2012.

They stole more than £13,000.

The gang relied on speed and fear to terrorise cashiers with an assortment of weapons, the court heard.

Two would enter a store with their faces hidden behind masks, while others waited outside in getaway cars.

In one hold up, two of the robbers caught a taxi to a village store and told the unsuspecting driver to wait nearby while they robbed it.

Moments later the pair emerged from the Co-op store in the village of Caddington, in Bedfordshire, with cash they had seized.

They even paid the £12 fare to the driver from the proceeds.

Luton crown court was told the gang was eventually caught after regulars at a pub in Flitwick, Bedfordshire, realised the gang were robbing a nearby Co-op store and chased the masked robbers as they fled to their waiting getaway car.

On Friday three men and two women were given prison sentences. A sixth defendant will be sentenced on Tuesday.

John Langley, 34, of Dunstable Road, Luton, who was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to rob. He was a getaway driver and was jailed for eight years and banned from driving for five years.

Stuart Guildea, 36 of Richmond Drive, Houghton Regis, was jailed for seven and a half years after pleading guilty to three robberies, one attempted robbery and three thefts. Judge Philip Bartle QC said he was a "career criminal" who had been released from his last prison sentence just eleven days before joining the gang.

Anthony Francis, 32 of Jasmine Road, Luton, was jailed for five years and four months. He pleaded guilty to two robberies.

Rachel Richards, 23, of Spinney Road, Luton, was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to rob. The mother of one was a getaway driver on two occasions. She was jailed for four years and banned from driving for three.

Christina Garland, 24, of Holyrood Drive, Houghton Regis, was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery after being present in the getaway car on one occasion. She was given a two-year prison sentence but was not in court as she had jumped bail. A warrant has been issued for her arrest.

Five members of a robbery gang have been jailed.

The sixth defendant, Mathew Daley, 34, of Abbots Wood Road, Luton, will be sentenced on Tuesday. He pleaded guilty to three robberies and is in prison on remand.

The robberies took place at branches in Luton, Caddington, Dunstable, Redbourn and Flitwick.

Ian McLoughlin, prosecuting, said the gang relied on speed and inducing fear in shop staff.

The robbers who entered a premises would be armed with a variety of weapons including hammers, screwdrivers, a knife or chisel.

Matthew Daley will be sentenced at a later date.