Red Kan­ga­roo rob­ber jailed for seven years

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

A COVEN­TRY man who took part in an armed raid at the Red Kan­ga­roo tram­po­line park in Ex­hall – where staff were forced to open the safes at gun­point – has been jailed for seven years.

De­clan Lee, 28, of Swan Lane, ad­mit­ted charges of bur­glary and rob­bery when he ap­peared at Warwick Crown Court.

The court heard how he also ter­ri­fied a ten-year-old girl and her 98-year-old great­grand­mother in a Coven­try bur­glary a month later.

Pros­e­cu­tor Tim Sap­well said on Fe­bru­ary 22, just two weeks af­ter it had opened, two staff mem­bers at the Red Kan­ga­roo in­door tram­po­line cen­tre in School Lane, Ex­hall, were tidy­ing up af­ter it had closed for the day at 8pm.

The front door was still un­locked when Lee walked in, pur­port­edly to ask about mak­ing a book­ing, but in fact to carry out a recce and check out who was there.

About half an hour later three other men, wear­ing masks, and with one of them car­ry­ing a gun, burst in and grabbed the male member of staff round the neck, de­mand­ing to be taken to the safe.

He and his fe­male col­league were then taken to the of­fice where they were forced at gun­point to open two safes be­fore be­ing or­dered to sit on the floor while the safes were emp­tied.

The three rob­bers then left with around £12,000 in cash, and the two staff mem­bers made 999 calls on their mo­bile phones.

Mean­while, Lee had moved the get­away car next to the main door.

He moved into the pas­sen­ger seat be­fore the three rob­bers rushed out, jumped into the car and drove off.

Mr Sap­well said the fe­male member of staff was so trau­ma­tised by her or­deal she quit her job. Lee, who had not been masked when he went into Red Kan­ga­roo, was recog­nised by a po­lice of­fi­cer who sub­se­quently viewed the CCTV record­ing from in­side the cen­tre.

By the time he was ar­rested he had also taken part, pos­si­bly with the same three men, in a bur­glary at a fam­ily’s home in Tre­herne Road, Coven­try, on March 31.

The four men had ar­rived in the same black car, and the first of them walked into the house through the un­locked front door and con­fronted the 67-year-old oc­cu­pant, de­mand­ing her phone.

She fled through the back door into the gar­den as the other raiders en­tered the house, and Lee went up­stairs where the woman’s 10-year-old grand­daugh­ter and 98-year-old mother had locked them­selves in the bath­room.

He forced his way in, telling the young girl: “I won’t hurt you. Just tell me where the safe is.”

She pointed to the front bed­room and he turned out cup­boards and draw­ers in an at­tempt to find the safe. He then turned over a sec­ond bed­room but was un­able to find it – and the four left empty-handed. When he was ar­rested Lee ad­mit­ted tak­ing part in the raids and said he thought the gun used in the rob­bery was real, and had seen it be­ing loaded in the car.

He said he had been at the home of a friend, whom he named, when his friend had a phone call and then asked him if he wanted “to do some­thing”.

He said he was re­luc­tant but went along and af­ter they had picked up two other men they went to Red Kan­ga­roo where he was told to go in and check out the premises.

Lee said the house raid had also been his friend’s idea, and that he had been un­der pres­sure to take part be­cause he owed £2,000 for drugs.

Mar­cus Harry, de­fend­ing, said Lee had been work­ing as a chef but had lost the job be­cause of his drug use, and had then been told to look af­ter some drugs for his dealer.

But the £2,000 worth of drugs had been dis­cov­ered by his girl­friend who had flushed them down the toi­let, and he was be­ing held re­spon­si­ble for the loss – and had been pres­sured into tak­ing part in the of­fences to re­pay it.

Lee was jailed for three years for the rob­bery, with a con­sec­u­tive four-year sen­tence for the bur­glary.

Judge Sylvia de Ber­to­dano said: “You went up­stairs and forced your way into the bath­room where a 10-year-old girl and her great-grand­mother had bar­ri­caded them­selves and asked where the safe was.

“You said they would not be hurt, but it must have been ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fy­ing for them to be con­fronted by you in those cir­cum­stances.”

When he was ar­rested Lee ad­mit­ted tak­ing part in the raids and said he thought the gun used in the rob­bery was real, and had seen it loaded in the car.

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