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4 August 2015, 10:27
A group of armed robbers in Coventry, caught by officers as they left the pub after a celebratory drink, have been jailed for a combined total of more than 16 years.
Daniel Aspinall, Shane McPherson, Kai Flynn and getaway driver Sarah Claridge were arrested as they left the Peeping Tom pub in Tile Hill less than two hours after they robbed Bargain Booze on Station Avenue on 15 August.
Their mint green Vauxhall Corsa spotted by witnesses leaving the scene of the crime was clocked by officers in the pub's car park at 11.15pm as they searched the area for the vehicle.
Around an hour and a half earlier, at 9.40pm, McPherson, 27, and Flynn, 29, entered the off licence armed with a knife and a dumbbell bar and demanded staff open the till. Aspinall, 23, acted as lookout while cash was stolen from the till, and cigarettes and bottles of spirits were taken from behind the counter.
The three men fled the shop and got into the waiting Corsa, whose driver matched the description of Sarah Claridge, aged 42.
The group then went to the pub and began counting the pound coins stolen in the raid on the counter, telling bar staff they had won the money in another pub's gambling machine.
Meanwhile, officers on the hunt for the getaway car had come across it in the car park and following inquiries, Aspinall, McPherson, Flynn and Claridge were identified as having arrived in the car.
The group were just leaving the pub when officers went to arrest them. McPherson threw his drink over one of the officers before trying to flee. He was found a short time later hiding in a nearby bush.
Searches of the Corsa and Claridge's home address found further evidence of the group's involvement with cigarettes, spirits, a balaclava and a hunting knife all being found.
All four were subsequently charged with one count of robbery each, with Flynn - of Jardine Crescent, Tile Hill - and McPherson ? of no fixed address - admitting their guilt early on.
Aspinall, of Mauren Close, Tile Hill, and Claridge, of George Hodkinson Close, Tile Hill, denied any involvement but were found guilty following a week-long trial at Warwick Crown Court.
On 28 July, Flynn and McPherson were each sentenced to three years and four months behind bars while Aspinall and Claridge were sentenced to four years and three months.
Detective Constable Pete Waterman said: "The group's arrogance ? heading down to a nearby pub to celebrate while counting their spoils on the bar was undoubtedly their downfall and their carelessness has now cost them dearly.
"However, it is thanks to our officers who continued to search for the getaway car in the hours after the robbery that the group were ultimately arrested and brought to justice.
"We're satisfied with the sentences handed to these individuals and we hope it serves as a deterrent to others who view crime as an easy way to make money."