Ex-worker took part in robbery at bakery

A woman who provided inside information to help plan a robbery at a bakery where she was once employed and then lied to a court about working there was last night found guilty by a jury.

A woman who provided inside information to help plan a robbery at a bakery where she was once employed and then lied to a court about working there was last night found guilty by a jury.

Mother-of-one Vanessa Ponsford, 34, of Edinburgh Road, Norwich, had denied being involved with two men in the robbery at Mr Bunn the Bakers, in Long Stratton, in April last year.

An earlier trial had to be halted after the victims realised she was a former staff member - a fact she had not disclosed to the court.

She also denied being involved in robberies at the Old Thorn Barn bed and breakfast, Hethel, and the Lavender House restaurant, Brundall, where a woman cleaner was held up at gunpoint and robbed of her handbag and its contents.

After deliberating for four hours yesterday, the jury at Norwich Crown Court found Ponsford guilty of one charge of robbery at Mr Bunn the Bakers and possessing a shotgun in the same incident.

She was found not guilty of robbing the Old Thorn Barn bed and breakfast at Hethel and of robbing the Lavender House restaurant, Brundall.

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She was found guilty of a further offence of possessing a shotgun.

Ponsford had told the jury that when the bakery robbery took place she was sitting in her Rover car which had run out of petrol half a mile away from Long Stratton, waiting for two men to come back with some petrol.

She said she had fallen asleep and, when she woke up, she managed to start the car and get it to a garage at Long Stratton where she bought some petrol.

However, it was claimed she was acting as the getaway driver only to botch her attempt to arrive at the scene of the crime in time to aid an escape. Instead the two robbers fled in the car belong-ing to the bakery owner.

In answer to William Carter, defending her, she said she had had nothing to do with the robbery. She said she had worked at the bakery for a few days towards the end of 2005 and was sacked. She had not given this information at a previous trial as she thought it might lead people to believe she had something to do with the robbery.

Ponsford showed no emotion in the dock when the verdicts were given.

Mr Carter asked for bail saying it was an “incompetent but very serious robbery”.

Judge Simon Barham refused bail and remanded her in custody. She is due to be sentenced on August 10 along with Michael Roode, 27, of no fixed address, who turned Queen's evidence against her, and Nigel Bestford, 27, of no fixed address, who have admitted various robbery offences.

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