A MAN alleged to have carried out armed robberies at a Warwick petrol station and a village store on the same night will not stand trial until July next year.
Michael Hackett pleaded not guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of robbery and two of possessing an imitation firearm at the time of committing the offences in June.
It is alleged the 30 year-old, of Fallow Hill, Sydenham, Leamington, first robbed a cashier at the BP service station in Stratford Road, Warwick, at gunpoint.
About half an hour later there was an identical robbery at the Co-op store in Long Itchington, again alleged to have been carried out by Hackett.
Because of the number of trials waiting to be heard at the court, Judge Stephen Eyre QC pointed out the trial could not be listed until July next year.
He adjourned the case until then, and Hacket was granted bail, with a warning that if he failed to attend for his trial, he will be committing a further offence.
In the meantime, 30 year-old get-away driver Samuel Gold, of Freshwater Grove, Leamington, is likely to be sentenced, having been convicted of all four charges following a trial last month.
During his trial prosecutor Simon Foster said the BP garage on Stratford Road was targeted on Sunday January 15.
Gold remained in the VW Golf car while his passenger, dressed in black and with his hoodie concealing his face, went into the shop brandishing a gun in his right hand. The robber demanded cash, and left with just over £200 in cash and cigarettes.
Soon after the Co-op store in Long Itchington, which is about 12 miles away, was robbed by a man in a balaclava. Two terrified assistants were threatened with a gun before the robber fled with about £400.
When the police saw the CCTV recording they could make out the registration number of the VW Golf and spoke to its owner who revealed he had lent it to Gold, who was then arrested.
And under the bed at his home, wrapped in a blue cloth, they found a blank-firing Walther pistol which ‘to all intents and purposes appeared to be the real thing.’
After the jury had returned its verdicts, Gold was remanded in custody for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him to consider whether he posed a danger to the public.
At the time of his trial it was said the identity of the gunman was not known – and, although co-defendants are usually dealt with together, it is expected Gold will be sentenced without waiting for the outcome of Hackett’s trial.