Three men involved in two terrifying armed robberies in Leeds have been jailed for a total of 40 years 6 months.
The men were caught following an investigation by detectives in north-east Leeds into a cash delivery robbery at Halton Post Office, in Cross Green Lane, in July 2012 and an attempted robbery at Osmondthorpe Stores, in Osmondthorpe Lane, in January last year.
In the Halton robbery, a security guard delivering cash to the post office was confronted by two men wearing balaclavas and armed with a handgun and a large knife.
They threatened to kill the guard unless he handed over the cash box, which he did. The men then forced him out of the post office to the rear of the security van, which was parked outside with his colleague inside.
They demanded more money from within the vehicle but were not given access before they sped off in a waiting silver Vauxhall Vectra driven by a third man.
The vehicle was found abandoned a short time later in Nettleton Court, Whitkirk, and was recovered for forensic examination. The car was found to be bearing false registration plates and it was established it had been bought from a car dealership in Wakefield in June.
Forensic evidence linked Ryan Patterson to the vehicle, and expert analysis of CCTV from the robbery matched 6ft 3in Patterson’s height exactly to the suspect on the footage. Checks on his mobile phone also linked him to the scene and showed contact with accomplice Gavin Ross.
Enquiries showed Ross’s phone had been used to buy the Vectra and linked him to the scene and contact with Patterson. Cash stained with security dye was recovered from his home.
The attempt robbery at Osmondthorpe Stores saw two men wearing balaclavas enter the shop. One armed with a large knife approached the 21-year-old male assistant and assaulted him before he managed to escape out of the shop.
At the same time, the second man was attaching a tow rope to a free-standing cash machine within the store before tying the other end to the rear of Honda Accord that had reversed up the shop.
The car drove off in an attempt to drag the cash machine out but the tow rope snapped. The men then drove off in the car which was found abandoned and on fire nearby.
Enquiries showed Ross’s mobile was used to buy the car.
Fingerprint evidence showed Richardson had bought the car and had told staff at the garage that it was going to be burnt out later that evening.
His phone linked him to Ross and he told police that he had purchased the vehicle on behalf of Ross and was aware it was going to be used in a robbery.
A footwear mark identified on the side of the cash machine was found to be from a rare type of training shoe which Richardson was found to wear.
Patterson, aged 29, of Levens Place, Halton Moor, pleaded guilty to the Halton Post Office robbery and was sentenced to 11 years 3 months years in prison. He was not implicated in the Osmondthorpe Stores incident.
Matthew Richardson, aged 29, of Manor Farm Road, Middleton, pleaded guilty to the Osmondthorpe Stores attempt robbery and was sentenced to 11 years 3 months. He was not implicated in the Halton Post Office robbery.
Gavin Ross, aged 28, of Neville Parade, Osmondthorpe, was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery in relation to both offences and sentenced to 18 years.
Detective Inspector Richard Holmes said: “These were very serious offences committed by offenders who thought nothing of threatening innocent people with weapons including a gun and knives. They were terrifying ordeals for the victims and witnesses involved who, despite the trauma they suffered, co-operated fully with the investigation that brought these men to justice.
“The significant sentences they have received reflect the seriousness with which the courts treat offences of this nature. This case should serve to remind people that the police will leave no stone unturned when it comes to tracking down and convicting offenders such as these to keep our communities safe.”