Armed robbers SCENT down!
HERO POLICE DOG TRACKS ROBBERS FOR A MILE TO THEIR SAFE HOUSE
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