ARMED raiders targeted staff at Hatton Country World and threatened to hack off one woman’s fingers with a machete if she did not open a safe for them.
But two members of the gang were caught less than two hours after taking more than £4,000 in cash in the terrifying raid at the popular tourist attraction.
And at Warwick Crown Court Craig Covington and Steven McNulty pleaded guilty to taking part in the robbery in July last year and possessing offensive weapons.
Covington, 30, of Cross Road, Foleshill, Coventry, was jailed for five years and two months, of which he will serve half, after being given credit for his plea.
But McNulty, 27, of Bathurst Road, Radford, Coventry, was given an ‘extended sentence’ after the court heard his previous convictions included an armed raid on a bookies in 2008. Under the sentence he was jailed for six years and eight months, of which he will serve two-thirds, and will then be on licence for the rest of the term and for a further four years.
Prosecutor Andrew Wilkins said on July 23 female members of staff had cashed up at the end of the day and put the money in a safe when they heard voices.
They were then confronted by three masked men, one of whom was armed with a machete, while McNulty had a hammer.
The court heard the one with the machete has not been caught, although a third man had been arrested but then had the case against him dropped, and Covington entered his plea on the basis that he was the unarmed raider.
The women were ordered back up to the safe room, where there were safes for various departments at Hatton Country World.
One woman was ordered to unlock the safes, before Covington took the cash and put it in a bag.
One of her colleagues, who is originally from South Africa where she had been subjected to an armed robbery before, was told to open another safe.
When she was unable to do so she was ordered to put her hands on top of the safe, and the man with the machete threatened to cut her fingers off, bringing the machete down as if to carry out his threat.
And McNulty raised his weapon as well to re-inforce the threat to her.
The three raiders, who also took a handbag belonging to one of the women, then left with over £4,300 in cash.
But Covington and McNulty immediately came under suspicion, and were arrested less than two hours later as they returned to McNulty’s home and were seen taking cash bags from the boot of McNulty’s car.
Mr Wilkins added both men had a large number of previous convictions, and McNulty had been jailed for five years after robbing staff at a bookmakers at knifepoint, while Covington’s convictions included a ram raid burglary in 2009.
Jailing the two men, Judge Andrew Lockhart told them: “While both of you say you were not involved in the planning, plainly the incident was planned and you would have had to have understood what the plan was and how it was to be carried out.
The robbers threatened to cut off a woman’s fingers with this machete. (s)