Violent plot to rob Cantley pub foiled at the last second by police who planted listening devices in gang’s car

Five sentenced after admitting plan to rob a pub in Cantley. L-R: John Boyd, Mark Douglas, Michelle

Five sentenced after admitting plan to rob a pub in Cantley. L-R: John Boyd, Mark Douglas, Michelle Ging, Paul Laker-Jones and Mark Leworthy. Photo: Norfolk Constabulary - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

A gang of would-be robbers who were on their way to carry out a violent raid on a village pub were foiled by armed police who got wind of the plot and planted a listening device.

The Reedcutter at Cantley.
Picture: James Bass

The Reedcutter at Cantley. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Norfolk Afloat � 2005

The five-strong gang set their sights on the Reedcutter in Cantley, near Great Yarmouth, after being tipped off that up to £200,000 was in the safe, Norwich Crown Court heard.

They bought a hammer for the raid, arranged for false number plates to be fitted on their getaway car - but were stopped en route by officers who had planted a bug in one of their cars.

The court heard the gang, which included Paul Laker-Jones, 36, Mark Leworthy, 54, John Boyd, 34, and Mark Douglas, 38, had been tipped off that the takings from the pub were kept in a safe. But there was just £8,000 being held, not £200,000.

The getaway car, a Nissan Juke, was to be driven by Michelle Ging, 24, the court heard. But the crime never happened as the car was stopped on its way to the pub by police.

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Sentencing the gang members to a total of more than 36 years in jail, Judge Stephen Holt said he had 'no doubt' had they made it into the pub that the landlord and others 'would've been threatened' so they could get into the safe.

Christopher Kerr, prosecuting, said police had fitted a recording device in a car being used by Leworthy and Laker-Jones and listened to the defendants discussing their plans with one of them taped saying 'if they've had a good summer there will be lots in there'.

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During recordings police heard discussions about the target, including looking at images of the pub on the internet and talking about where to go in.

Police also picked up recordings of Leworthy 'boasting' about the raid to his son - unaware that it had been thwarted by police who had arrested Boyd, Douglas and Ging on their way to the pub.

He told his son: 'I helped someone to do really bad things. If I get caught I will probably get around 15 years.

'I helped an armed robbery. I didn't do it but I arranged it. It's a pub near Yarmouth. The guy who owns it never uses a bank. He said there was a safe upstairs that held about £200,000 in it.'

Leworthy told his son he had a bit of guilt going through him as the guys they got into do the job would not have messed about.

He said they would have gone in wearing balaclavas and 'put a shotgun in his face'.

He added: 'They would've struck him and hurt him a little bit if he refused.'

He also said he was going to make £10,000 out of the raid and was going to spend it on a new car.

The gang met up on December 12 last year having bought a rucksack, hammer and gloves from a supermarket in Yarmouth.

The false plates had been fitted before members of the gang headed to the pub where they were intercepted by armed police.

Leworthy, of St George's Road, Yarmouth, was jailed for eight years after he previously admitted conspiracy to commit robbery.

Laker-Jones, Douglas and Boyd all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.

Laker-Jones, of St Michael's Road, Ormesby, near Yarmouth was sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

Douglas, of no fixed address, also admitted two counts of possession of a controlled drug of class A with intent and asked for 49 other offences to be taken into consideration. He was given an extended sentence of 13 years, made up of nine years custody and four on licence.

Boyd, of Borehamwood, who was also sentenced in relation to a separate offence of threatening behaviour following a road rage incident, was also, like Douglas, given an extended sentence of 13 years.

Ging, of Borehamwood, previously admitted assisting an offender. She was jailed for 14 months.

Andrew Oliver, mitigating for Leworthy, said he was the first to plead guilty and should be given full credit for his plea.

He said much of what he said was 'bragging' and 'embellishment'.

Hugh Vass, mitigating for Laker-Jones, said it appears it was a 'fairly cack-handed' and 'amateurish' operation in which no-one was ever going to be confronted or threatened. He said he was very remorseful having got involved in something like this.

Chris Waymont, mitigating for Boyd, said he 'certainly didn't play a leading role and was simply brought in to carry out the deed'.

Jonathan Rose, for Douglas, said his client was 'in essence' a burglar and was not going to go in and threaten anyone.

Simon Ralph, for Ging, said had no role whatsoever in the planning of the offence.

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