Two men ‘threatened two women with a claw hammer’ in a robbery at a Rugby convenience store two days after one of them stole cash in similar raid, a court heard yesterday (Tuesday, May 17).
Dominic Williams pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to robbing staff at Maddens newsagents in Hillmorton Road of money and cigarettes on November 13, last year.
Plus he and Daniel Bale pleaded not guilty to robbing staff at the One Stop store in Lower Hillmorton Road of money, stamps and scratch cards two days later.
Williams, 32, of Steel Street, and Bale, 30, of Phipps Avenue, also deny possessing an offensive weapon, a hammer, during the second raid.
Prosecutor Daniel Oscroft said the first shop, Maddens, was targeted at 5am on a Sunday morning after Martin Glenn opened the door to bring in bundles of papers.
As he did so Mr Glenn noticed three men making a lot of noise at the nearby BP garage – one of whom was identified from a CCTV recording as being Williams.
Shortly after that, as he was sorting out one of the newspaper bundles, two men came into the shop with their hoods up and scarves over their faces.
One stood by the counter while the other confronted him, pushing him, causing him to lose his balance and fall, demanding: “Give me your money, we want your money.”
Despite being told the money was in the till, that robber continued to stand over him, pushing his head to the floor and repeating the demand.
Meanwhile the other man smashed the till down onto the counter to force it open, and the robbers grabbed £50-60 and a quantity of cigarettes before making their escape.
Two days later, two women were working at the One Stop store at 6.30am, when there was another robbery, said Mr Oscroft.
“We say these two defendants were responsible. It was the same time of day and a similar approach, but this time one of them was armed with a claw hammer.
“We would suggest you can infer that because they were unsuccessful in stealing a large amount of money on the first occasion, they armed themselves with a claw hammer and were much more aggressive.”
The women working in the shop were ‘obviously petrified’ as they were threatened with the hammer by one of the two masked raiders who smashed open the tills.
They then ransacked behind the counter before escaping with ‘a few thousand pounds worth’ of cash, scratchcards, stamps and other items.
A man who was walking his dog saw the robbers fleeing with their haul and gave chase, making a note of the registration number of a van they jumped into.
The van was linked to a man who lived with his partner at an address in Steel Street, where Williams and his girlfriend were also staying at the time, and his partner was to give evidence.
“Some of the things she says may not reflect very well on her, but we expect she will say she saw Mr Bale and Mr Williams on the morning of each of these robberies, shortly after they had been committed,” Mr Oscroft said.
She has said that after the first robbery the two men were carrying bags of cigarettes, and on the morning of the second robbery she said she had handed a claw hammer to one of the defendants and saw them leave with her partner.
“Shortly afterwards, they returned to the flat and were dividing up cash and scratchcards,” Mr Oscroft said.
“She will confirm that a scratch card given to her was redeemed for £40 less than an hour after the robbery.”
Mr Oscroft pointed out when the police raided the flat and arrested Bale, Williams and the couple, they found a bag with a large number of scratchcards in it – on which the fingerprints of all four of them were found.
He added Bale had the keys to the van on him, and there was evidence of him and others burning clothes and shoes in the garden following the robbery.
Mr Oscroft told the jury: “These two robberies involve masked men robbing vulnerable shopkeepers in the early hours of the morning.
“It’s sometimes hard to show who’s responsible when you have masked robbers, so this case relies heavily on circumstantial evidence.
“There may be other evidence that points to other people, and you may think at the end of the case that not all the loose ends have been tied up, but I ask you to concentrate on whether we have proved the case against these two.”
The trial continues.