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Robbers jailed for raids in Corsham and Devizes
11:24am Monday 25th June 2012 in Local
A pair of armed robbers who held up a betting shop and bank at gunpoint have each been jailed for five years.
George Davies-Ball and Samuel Bryant carefully planned the raids in Corsham and Devizes texting each other before they were carried out.
During one of the hold ups a cashier, who was 20 weeks pregnant, was so terrified she shut herself in a back room and would not come out until her colleague unlocked the doors.
And after the pair were apprehended police found messages from friends of the lads who knew what had been going on mocking officers as they tried to crack the crimes.
Rob Welling, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court that Bryant, 23, and Davies-Ball, 20, carried out the first raid at William Hill in Corsham.
Video footage from the shop’s CCTV system was shown in court as the men, wearing balaclavas, carried out the robbery at about 7.40pm on Wednesday February 23 2011.
Davies-Ball stormed up to the counter and pointed the handgun at the assistant manager and told him to fill a yellow carrier bag with cash.
Meanwhile Bryant stood guard at the door to the Newlands Road branch of the bookmaker as the pair were in and out in less than 30 seconds, taking £1,060.
The pregnant worker is seen fleeing in terror the moment she sees the armed, masked man and her colleague was later sacked for leaving the safe door open.
Mr Welling said that while the gun was an air pistol as far as the victims were concerned it ‘looked like the genuine article’.
Two weeks later they struck again when they robbed the Cheltenham & Gloucester on the corner of Wine Street and St John’s Street, Devizes in a day time raid.
Sporting fake moustaches and wearing baseball caps Bryant went to the counter at about 2.30pm on Wednesday March 9, handed the cashier a note and showed her the gun.
The message read ‘I have a gun’ and ‘put all the money in the bag’ and the terrified member of staff handed over £2,300 before the pair fled.
Mr Welling said the victim of that raid also had to have time off work as a result of the shock at what she had been through but more than a year on has improved greatly.
The pair were arrested later that month after they were seen acting suspiciously in Corsham and officers recovered the gun as well as their mobile phones.
He said there were text messages before each of the robberies talking about false number plates for the car and their need for cash.
Mr Welling said “There were also text messages between them and others known to the defendants and it is clear in their wider circle what they were doing was known and there was a good deal of mocking of the police for the state of their investigation.”
Davies-Ball, of Westmead Lane, Chippenham, and Bryant, of Cornflower Way, Melksham, pleaded guilty to two robberies and two firearm offences.
Jason Taylor, for Bryant, said his client had got into debt and shortly before the first incident bailiffs had visited the family home and threatened to take his parents’ property.
Reading part of a letter he had written to the judge he said Bryant realised he had fallen well below the moral standards his parents had instilled in him.
He said he did not really understand the seriousness of what he was doing and acted out of desperation.
Martin Hawkes, for Davies-Ball, said his client was in the grip of a drug habit at the time and needed money for that.
He said he was now tackling his problems and was full of remorse for what he had done.
Passing sentence Judge Euan Ambrose said “There are quite a number of aggravating features in relation to the two offences.
“They were committed by more than one defendant working together, a significant degree of pre-planning by you as evidenced by the texts in which you are planning and revelling the prospect of it.”
He said of the first raid: “Two men wearing balaclavas coming into a shop: it doesn’t require me to say it but it must have been terrifying for the two employees.”