Armed rob­bers SCENT down!


Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By AN­DREW BARDSLEY an­drew.bardsley@trin­i­tymir­ @An­drewBard­s­leyMEN

A ‘LEG­ENDARY’ po­lice dog and his han­dler have been praised by a judge for help­ing to catch a gang of armed rob­bers who ‘ter­rorised’ staff at a Chorl­ton restau­rant.

Four men have been jailed for 33 years thanks to the coura­geous work of Pc Gareth Greaves and his Ger­man Shep­herd Theo.

Mark Tay­lor, 28, Ash­ley Grimes, 31, Lorenzo Camp­bell, 25, and Yahya Kho­jani, 26, burst into The Laun­drette restau­rant in Beech Road, Chorl­ton, late on a Sun­day night in April.

The gang, who had a knife and a claw ham­mer, threat­ened staff and left the restau­rant af­ter about three min­utes, tak­ing £7,000 which they had stuffed into bags.

Af­ter a mem­ber of the public re­ported the rob­bery, Pc Greaves and Theo were on the scene within a few min­utes – and Theo picked up a scent and was able to track the rob­bers to their safe house, just un­der a mile away – where they were cel­e­brat­ing their ap­par­ently suc­cess­ful crime.

Pc Greaves called for back-up and the gang were ar­rested.

Judge An­thony Cross QC has called on Pc Greaves and Theo to be hon­oured by Chief Con­sta­ble Ian Hop­kins, say­ing: “Pc Greaves is a credit to GMP. He placed him­self at risk fol­low­ing the trail of a num­ber of men who he knew to be armed. He fol­lowed with his dog and the dog took him to the rob­bers’ lair.

“He did not with­draw there, he waited for the po­lice to ar­rive and then his dog sprang into ac­tion.”

The four rob­bers struck in a ‘planned’ and ‘pro­fes­sional’ oper­a­tion, Manch­ester Crown Court heard.

They knew the best way to en­ter and exit the restau­rant and the rob­bery had also been planned to en­sure there was a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money avail­able, which hadn’t been banked over the weekend.

All the rob­bers wore masks, dark cloth­ing and gloves, and came through the back door of the restau­rant at 10.45pm, de­mand­ing that staff hand over money.

A wait­ress said she was left ‘ab­so­lutely pet­ri­fied’ fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent on April 10 last year, al­though no-one was in­jured.

Fol­low­ing the rob­bery, the gang got into a stolen Vaux­hall As­tra with false num­ber plates.

They dumped the car on a cul-de-sac nearby, be­fore run­ning away along a foot­path to a ‘safe house’ in Al­sager Close, Chorl­ton. There the gang got changed and ‘cel­e­brated’ their ap­par­ently suc­cess­ful rob­bery – but their cel­e­bra­tions were short lived. The judge sen­tenced Tay­lor, a ‘prime mover’ in the rob­bery, to 11 years and nine months in prison.

Grimes, who has pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for rob­bery, re­ceived eight years and three months. Kho­jani, who was said to have a ‘good work record’ and was in a less se­ri­ous po­si­tion than Tay­lor, was sen­tenced to seven-and-a-half years.

Camp­bell, who was re­cruited ‘late in the day’ for the rob­bery, was sen­tenced to six years in prison.

Tay­lor, of, Con­gle­ton Av­enue, Fal­low­field, and Kho­jani, of Elsmore Road, Fal­low­field, were con­victed of rob­bery af­ter trial. Camp­bell, of Pull­man Close, Leven­shulme, and Grimes, of Hast­ings Av­enue, Chorl­ton, pre­vi­ously pleaded guilty to rob­bery.

It is not the first time Pc Greaves and Theo have helped bring crim­i­nals to jus­tice.

In Novem­ber last year two sus­pected thieves were caught af­ter Pc Greaves and his trusty dog gave chase in Sad­dle­worth for more than an hour. And in July, Theo and Pc Greaves helped to ap­pre­hend a sus­pect af­ter he tried to run off fol­low­ing a car chase through Hyde. Dur­ing the in­ci­dent the of­fender bit Theo, the dog suf­fer­ing a wound to his head.

The hound was un­able to lie down for sev­eral days due to bruis­ing but has re­cov­ered. Pc Greaves was also left with a split lip and a bro­ken hand dur­ing the in­ci­dent.

Pc Greaves has even writ­ten a chil­dren’s book about his fic­tional ad­ven­tures with Theo, named Theo and the Mys­tery Muf­fin Thief.

Pc Gareth Greaves with his po­lice dog Theo who helped catch the jailed gang (be­low from left) Yahya Kho­jani, Mark Tay­lor, Ash­ley Grimes and Lorenzo Camp­bell

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