A Kenilworth man who took part in a terrifying knifepoint robbery at a convenience store in the town has finally been jailed – four months after his three accomplices were sentenced.
Despite it being known as long ago as September last year that Jamie Considine was one of the gang, and easy to find because he was in custody, his case was split off from the others.
Considine, 25, of Beauchamp Road, Kenilworth, was jailed for four-and-a-half years after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to robbery and possessing a bladed article.
Prosecutor Philip Beardswell said that on August 2 last year Considine and Kevin McGregor went into the One Stop store in Albion Street, Kenilworth, shortly before it was due to close.
As one of the two members of staff was serving a startled couple, McGregor jumped over the counter with a knife demanding: “Open the till. This isn’t a joke. No-one will get hurt, just open the till.”
The assistant tried to open it, but was unable to do so, at which Considine, who was keeping watch, told McGregor: “He’s trying to do something, just stab him.”
The terrified staff member moved to another till which he was then able to open, and McGregor grabbed £285 in cash before he and Considine fled from the shop to a waiting get-away car.
Driver Aaron McKellar had been recruited by the fourth member of the team, Jennifer Plant, at whose Leamington flat the raid had been planned, with Considine and McGregor wearing masks made by cutting up one of her tops.
During the raid, the two customers had managed to get out of the shop to their own car from where they called the police and made a note of the number of the get-away car.
The four returned to Plant’s flat where, following their arrests, the police found two knives, with Considine’s DNA on both and McGregor’s DNA on one of them.
But at the police station Considine refused to leave his cell to be interviewed, said Mr Beardswell.
The court heard that in September Considine appeared at the court and was remanded in custody for an earlier attempted robbery at a One Stop store in Leamington, for which he was jailed for four years the following month.
Despite that, his case was not linked with the other three who denied being involved but were convicted after a trial and sentenced in March – still without Considine in the dock.
His barrister Justin Jarmola said: “I see absolutely no reason other than incompetence why this matter didn’t progress alongside the other three defendants.”
And Judge Sally Hancox observed: “When the police were looking for a named suspect, he was in one of the easiest places to find him.”
Mr Jarmola pointed out: “He would have been in HMP Hewell at the time. His case was even linked with the co-accused when the case was first at the crown court in September.”
Judge Hancox commented: “I can’t do anything about what has been lamentable case preparation in respect of four people who were clearly together. I cannot begin to decipher what has happened, but it is lamentable.”
And to compensate for the time Considine has been in custody since the others were jailed, which will not count towards his sentence, the judge said she would pass concurrent terms for the two offences, rather than consecutive.
She told Considine: “You played a significant leading role in what was an appalling robbery at that One Stop store.
“You must have used such shops yourself. Those people help the public by providing a service, and you know that what you did that night was disgraceful. He must have been terrified.”
But she referred to a letter from Considine in which he says he now looks back on that period in his life, which was dominated by his use of drugs, and does not recognise himself.
And he concluded by saying: “Be assured, I am not going back there. I hurt so many people, I wake up at night thinking about it. Believe me, I am very, very sorry.”
Following the sentencing, police staff investigator Russell Marsh said: "This was an appalling crime and a horrific experience for the victim.
"Considine showed no consideration for his victim, using a knife to deliberately frighten him. I hope the victim and local community can gain some reassurance from the length of the sentence imposed."