Two dangerous career criminals have been jailed for 14 years after carrying out a terrifying raid on a pub and plotting more robberies.
Paul Oliver and Thomas Bailey were described at Newcastle Crown Court as dangerous individuals who had spent time planning their robberies and ensuring they covered their tracks.
The pair broke into the Salutation Inn, in Front Street, Tynemouth, in the early hours of August 25 last year via an unsecure bathroom window to the flat above the premises.
Wearing ski-masks and armed with a crowbar, they burst into landlady Sarah Riding’s bedroom and demanded she open the safe, escaping with £20,000 in takings from the Bank Holiday weekend.
The court also heard that the pair had carried out an unsuccessfaul raid on the Post Office in John Street, Cullercoats, on January 3, 2014, while the cash machine was being restocked but stole £9,500 from the Post Office in Nile Street, North Shields, seven days later, leaving the postmistress and her husband extremely shocked and shaken after using a concrete post to smash their way in.
Oliver, 45, and Bailey, 38, had broken into Motorworld, in Chillingham Road, Heaton, in December 2013, and stolen a number plate making machine to ensure the vehicles used in their crimes could not be traced back to them.
During a two week trial in August, the court heard that the pair had plotted more robberies.
An undercover police operation trailling the pair before the Salutation robbery found they were carrying out sophisticated surveillance of cash deliveries made to the Co-op stores in Seaton Delaval, Tynemouth and North Shields.
After they were arrested following the Salutation robbery, police found a handgun and live ammunition in one of the vehicles they had in their fleet.
Christopher Knox, prosecuting, said: “They were career criminals carrying out robberies and had vehicles which were virtually untraceable. They went to extreme lengths to make sure their vehicles weren’t traced back to them.”
Tony Hawks, defending Oliver, said: “He is described as a career criminal. Yes he has got himself involved in serious offending here but before that there is no conviction that impacts on the dangerousness to the public.
“He is operating in the Premier League now, his role will be determined by Your Honour and can’t complain if he gets Premier League sentences.”
Tony Davis, representing Bailey, said: “The offences do not easily sit with the idea that he is a danger to the public.”
Bailey, of Falstaff Road, North Shields, and Oliver, of Watch House Close, North Shields, were both jailed for 14 years, with four years extended licence for the robbery of the Salutation Inn.
They were given concurrent sentences of nine months for the robbery at Motorworld, eight years for the Post Office robberies and consirpacy to rob, seven years for possession of a handgun, and six months for possession of ammunition.
Judge Robert Adams said: “You are both dangerous offenders.
“These were professionally planned robberies. You were disguised and stolen vehicles were used. The robberies were targeting large sums of cash.
“You forced your way into the Salutation Inn and into the landlady’s bedroom. She must have been terrified when she realised what was about to happen.
“Although no direct threat of harm was made, it was implied. It’s not surprising that she co-operated and opened the safe. She had no alternative.”
Mark Templeton, 46, of North Parade, Whitley Bay, was sentenced to six years in prison for his role in the robbery at the Salutation Inn.
He pleaded guilty during the trial, but the court heard that afterwards he expressed his remorse.
Judge Adams said: “You were a regular at the Salutation Inn and were a friend of Sarah Riding, doing work on the premises. It seems highly likely you were the source of much of the information used by Paul Oliver and Thomas Bailey.
“Had you not got involved it seems highly unlikely this offence would have been committed.
“You betrayed the trust of Sarah Riding.”
Oliver’s wife Joanne Oliver, 42, of Verne Road, North Shields, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, after being found guilty of witness intimidation after approaching Ms Riding at the Salutation Inn.
Tony Hawks, defending, said: “Twice in her life she has go into trouble with the law and on both occasions it was in support of her husband.”
Melissa Bailey, Thomas Bailey’s sister, pleaded guilty to assisting an offender after her brother went on the run for 30 hours before his arrest, and handling stolen goods after police found the number plate making machine at her flat in Falstaff Road, North Shields.
The 32-year-old was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years, with a 12-month supervision.
Judge Adams said: “I have no doubt at all that you were put under considerable pressure to assist your brother as well as store the number plate making machine which was central to his offending.”
Speaking after the case, Detective Chief Inspector Paul Milner, of Northumbria Police’s Crime Department, said: “This organised crime group planned a series of armed robberies across the North Tyneside area.
“They used extremely sophisticated surveillance equipment to carry out their surveillance of the security drivers. They used a fleet of vehicles bearing false number plates they produced themselves from a stolen number plate making machine they had earlier stolen in a burglary.
“However, little did they know whilst they were conducting their surveillance we were conducting our own surveillance on them and were watching their movements.
“With the assistance of the community working together we were able to apprehend the group and put them before the courts which has led to the sentences imposed on them today.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure the public, these men who clearly had the potential to be very dangerous are now behind bars and will be, for a significant amount of time.”