A man who held up a Kenilworth shopkeeper at knifepoint has been jailed – together with a young woman whose home was used as a base for the raid and the get-away driver she recruited.
Kevin McGregor, Jennifer Plant and Aaron McKellar had all denied being involved in the robbery at the One Stop store in Albion Street, Kenilworth, in August last year.
But all three were found guilty following a trial at Warwick Crown Court, and McGregor was also convicted of having a bladed article, a kitchen knife, during the raid.
The court heard McGregor (29) of no fixed address, but formerly of Masters Road, Leamington, was on licence at the time from a four-and-a-half-year sentence for a robbery at another One Stop store in 2013.
After deciding he poses a danger to the public, Judge Sally Hancox imposed an extended sentence of six years, followed by an additional three years on licence.
As a result, McGregor will have to serve at least four years in jail, and will then only be released before serving the full term if the Parole Board considers it is safe to do so – and after the six years he will remain on licence for a further three.
Plant (27) of Christine Ledger Square, Leamington, and McKellar (27) of Enright Close, Leamington, were both jailed for six years – but will be released on licence after serving half their sentences.
During the trial the court heard that in August last year McGregor planned with Plant and another man to carry out a robbery at the One Stop store in Kenilworth.
But they needed a get-away driver and, after contacting various people she knew who had cars, Plant recruited McKellar.
The four left from Plant’s flat, where they had cut up one of her tops to make face masks, and with McGregor having armed himself with a knife from the kitchen, and drove to Kenilworth.
While McKellar and Plant waited nearby in his car, McGregor and the other man, wearing the make-shift masks, went into the store as shopkeeper Alec Doherty was preparing to close.
The other man waited by the door as McGregor approached the counter and, brandishing the knife, demanded money before grabbing around £280 from the till.
He and his accomplice then fled back to the car in which they returned to Plant’s flat – but she, McGregor and McKellar were later identified and arrested.
Following an adjournment for pre-sentence reports to be prepared on the three, Jane Brady, for McKellar, said: “There is no evidence that this matter was planned by him. He was chosen as a last resort by Jennifer Plant asking for a lift.”
She said McKellar ‘had no real need for money,’ because he worked in his father’s business, and he was not aware the other two men had knives and face-coverings, but had ‘foolishly become involved at the last minute.’
Ian Speed, for Plant, observed: “Her role was a minor role, but a pivotal role, in that she arranged the transport that was used in an armed robbery.”
He said that Plant was free of drugs, and had now been off Methadone for three months, he added: “This has been a turn-round, she’s going to use her time in custody productively.”
Jasvir Mann, for McGregor, said he now admits he was the man at the counter with the knife.
Mr Mann pointed out that, according to Mr Doherty, it was the second man who seemed to be in charge and was telling McGregor to stab him, but there was no suggestion McGregor made any movement towards him to give the impression he was going to do so.
Sentencing the three, Judge Hancox: “All three of you played your parts in what must have been an utterly terrifying episode for those who were in and working in the One Stop shop in Kenilworth.
“To some extent it doesn’t matter whether you were the public face of this in the store, or had brought this together, or were to act as the get-away driver.
“Those who own and work in convenience stores, who work unsocial hours so those of us in the general public can use their services, are entitled to go about their jobs in safety.
“It is clear that only one type of sentence can be imposed.”