A Gosberton man is on trial for armed robbery after allegedly snatching a shopkeeper’s takings from his car at gunpoint after his accomplice had rammed a stolen vehicle into his VW Polo.
The court heard the robbers made a quick getaway but left a trail of leaking radiator fluid for police to follow.
Police were able to follow the trail through the streets of Luton and soon found the damaged silver Vauxhall Astra abandoned.
Checks with the car’s woman owner revealed it had been stolen shortly before being used that night in the armed hold up of the shopkeeper.
And a jury at Luton crown court heard she told police about two men who had helped her clear her spare room just a week earlier – a room in which she kept a spare key to the car.
The story unfolded when Daniel Rankin (34), of High Street, Gosberton and Victor Tull (38), of Southview Close, South London went on trial, pleading not guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, robbery and having an imitation firearm with intent.
The jury heard how, shortly after 11pm on the night of September 4 last year, shopkeeper Ponniah Vijayarajah locked up his shop in Rockley Road, Luton and got in his car with the day’s takings of £1,175. At a junction his car was suddenly struck by the Astra which had been stolen shortly before.
Max Hardy, prosecuting, said it was Mr Rankin – who was a passenger in the Astra – who then ran up to the VW Polo, flung open the passenger door and, brandishing a handgun, snatched the money which was in a rucksack beside the driver. He then got back in the Astra, which was driven off by Mr Tull.
The court was told that when police arrived they were able to follow a trail of radiator fluid to nearby Delphine Close in Luton where the Astra had been abandoned.
Mr Hardy said when the vehicle’s woman owner was traced that same night, she didn’t even know her car had ben stolen, but was able to provide officers with the names of the defendants.
Police discovered the pair had connections to a flat directly above Mr Vijayarajah’s shop in Rockley Road. Two days after the robbery the pair were arrested. Mr Hardy said the robbery had been planned by persons who knew the shopkeeper’s movements.