Pair jailed for armed Atherton robbery thanks to quick thinking motorist
4:16pm Wednesday 18th December 2013 in North West
ARMED robbers who fled from an Atherton travel agents with red smoke pouring from one of their pockets were caught thanks to a quick thinking motorist.
Despite one of the raiders threatening him with a handgun, Stuart Hutcheon made sure he photographed the registration number of the getaway vehicle as they drove off empty handed after abandoning the £1,800 stolen cash on the pavement.
His public spirited behaviour enabled police to track down the two men and Brian Cooney, who has previous robbery convictions, was jailed for nine years, with an extended licence of five years today, Wednesday.
His accomplice, Graham Ward, aged 46, who stood guard at the travel agents' door, was jailed for six years.
Jailing them the Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Clement Goldstone, QC said: “The traumatic effect of your behaviour on the victims - then, now and quite possibly for the future - cannot be under-estimated."
He commended Mr Hutcheon for his public spirited behaviour and awarded him £250.
"He is a brave member of the public whose courage and persistence should not go unrecognised or unrewarded," he said.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that the two men, who tried to disguise their appearance, one with a hood and the other a scarf, burst into the Thomas Cook office in Market Street in Atherton, just before closing time on September 23.
Cooney pointed a gun towards two of the three female assistants and aggressively demanded cash.
"He grabbed one of the women by the wrist and held the gun to her left temple and turned to another saying 'give me money'," said Karen Brooks, prosecuting.
While still pointing the gun at one of the assistants he opened the till and grabbed notes in various currencies not realising they were accompanied by smoke and dye security packages, said Mrs Brooks.
The two men then ran out of the shop but as they were running along Stanley Street, Mr Hutcheon noticed them and began to take pictures on his mobile phone. When Cooney spotted him, he pointed the gun at him and shouted threats.
The court heard that although the gun brandished by Cooney was a BB gun which he had painted black, the victims believed it was real and they could be shot.
Cooney, aged 39, and Ward, of Buckingham Road, Cadishead in Manchester, both pleaded guilty to robbery and possessing an imitation hand gun. Cooney, of Lord Street, Cadishead, also admitted possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
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