THREE men staged a terrifying robbery of a ‘cash-in-transit’ guard outside a Rugby supermarket – with one threatening to chop his hand off if he did not unlock the cash box.
Two of them, one of whom had already taken part in an armed robbery at a store in Cawston, went on to carry out another raid at a Tesco store near the holiday resort of Skegness.
And at Warwick Crown Court Kevin Mullen and Daniel Jordan were both jailed for 16 years, while Aaron Liburd was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years.
In May of last year, Mullen, 38, formerly of Edward Street, Nuneaton, pleaded guilty to three charges of robbery; Jordan, 44, formerly of Spruce Road, Nuneaton, to two of those charges and one of dangerous driving; and Liburd, 42, formerly of Prior Park Road, Rugby, to one of them.
The men were due to be sentenced last year, but this was delayed.
Prosecutor John O’Higgins said that 10.20pm on Saturday 20 January 2018 there were just two staff members working at the Co-op store in Cawston near Rugby when three masked men ran in.
The three, who included Mullen, were armed with a meat cleaver, a machete and a knife, and one of them held the knife to the face of a male employee who was in the shop area.
They took him to the office at the rear, where a female colleague was cashing up, and banged on the door, shouting to her to open it – which she did out of fear for their safety.
They ordered her to open the safes, which she did, and they stuffed a total of £7,445 into a black bag before leaving with the staff members’ phones to delay them raising the alarm.
Fourteen minutes later the police tried to stop a Ford Fiesta in Deedmore Road, Coventry, near to Mullen’s mother’s home, but it sped away despite a stinger being used, and the occupants then abandoned it and ran off after crashing into a fence.
They left a till drawer, a rucksack containing the cash, and the male employee’s wallet, and in a nearby wood a police dog found a snood and a black body warmer with Mullen’s DNA on them.
Later that year Mullen, who had been released in 2017 after serving ten years of an indeterminate prison sentence for conspiracy to rob, was recalled to prison.
Following his release, on 9 April 2019 he and the other two took part in the professionally-planned robbery of a cash-in-transit guard outside the Lidl store in Bilton Road, Rugby.
They pulled up in a black Audi RS3 shortly after the security van had arrived in the middle of the afternoon, and as the guard came out of the busy store with a cash box containing takings of £18,000 Mullen and Liburd ran towards him.
As Mullen grabbed hold of him, demanding that he open the cash box, Liburd brandished a machete and repeatedly threatened to cut his hand off to take the box if he did not open it.
When the terrified guard complied, it activated the box’s security dye, but they grabbed the bag of cash from it and ran back to the Audi where Jordan was waiting to speed away.
They dumped the Audi, stolen in a burglary in Kenilworth, on a residents’ parking area in nearby Knole Close, where they had left Jordan’s Vauxhall Zafira in which they then drove away.
Liburd, whose home in Prior Park Road overlooked the Lidl store, was arrested three days later, having spent £439 in £10 notes the previous day, and £3,110 in cash was found at his home.
The other two had left the area and driven in a black BMW to a caravan park close to a Tesco Express store in Ingoldmells, near Skegness where they spent £600 in a JD Sports shop.
Then at 5am on May Bank Holiday morning, two female staff members arrived at the Tesco store and were preparing to open when a Peugeot Mullen had bought for cash a few days earlier pulled up.
He and Jordan, armed with kitchen knives, ran inside and ordered one of the women to open the tills.
Their phones were then taken before they were taken to the office and ordered to open the safe – but they were unable to do so because they were time-locked.
Having taken £10,220 from the tills, Mullen and Jordan made off in the Peugeot before abandoning it and switching back to the BMW, said Mr O’Higgins.
Later that month the police tried to stop Jordan as he was driving a Mini with his wife next to him, but he sped away along the A444 and drove through the village of Sibson at 80mph.
All three men denied being involved in any of the robberies when they were arrested and interviewed.
Mr O’Higgins added that Mullen and Jordan were both given indeterminate sentences for the public protection in 2007 for their parts in separate conspiracies to rob supermarkets – and had both served ten years before being released on licence for life.
Ian Jobling, for Mullen and Jordan, pointed out that because they had both been recalled to prison, the time they had spent on remand would not count towards their sentences.
He asked the judge to reduce the terms to take account of that – but Judge Anthony Potter rejected that, saying it was the consequence of committing offences while on licence.
David Everett, for Liburd, conceded he had ‘an unenviable list of previous convictions,’ but the last for robbery had been a less serious one when he was 18 and was sentenced to 18 months.
“He accepts he took part in this robbery and that he faces a custodial sentence for it. At the time he had significant drugs debts and there were threats, and he asked to become involved and went into this willingly.”
Jailing the three, Judge Potter told them: “I sentence you Mullen and Jordan for your roles in more than one robbery which took place in your case Mullen over the course of a 16-month period punctuated by a period in prison.
“In your case Jordan, it was over a period of just shy of a month; and you Liburd for your involvement in a cash-in-transit robbery in April 2019.
“That was committed outside a Lidl store in Rugby on a busy Tuesday afternoon when many shoppers were going to and fro. There was a threat by you Liburd to cut off his hands if he did not comply with the demands being made by Mullen
“The robbery of the Tesco in Skegness was the last in time, committed by you Mullen and Jordan in the early hours of a Bank Holiday Monday in May 2019.
“All were commercial robberies which had the hallmarks of professional planning and execution. And Mullen, it is said you have underlying beliefs supportive of organised crime, which is a worrying aspect of your case.”
Judge Potter also ordered the £3,110 seized from Liburd, £2,369 from Mullen and £50 from Jordan to be confiscated and used to pay £1,105 in compensation to each of their five victims.
Speaking after the hearing, investigating officer Det Insp Collette O’Keefe from Leamington CID said: “This was a significant investigation which involved a dedicated team working on it for two years.
“On the day of the Rugby robbery, these men showed extreme violence, using machetes in broad daylight outside of a supermarket. This was a pre-planned job and a terrifying ordeal for the victims to go through.
“Although sentencing has been delayed, I hope the victims will now be able to take some comfort that these men will now face considerable time in prison for their actions.
“I’d like to thank the investigating team for their tireless dedication, to enable this case to come to a successful conclusion.”