Masked raiders targeted Shrewsbury Nando's armed with tools in morning raid
Two career criminals drove to Shrewsbury in a stolen van with tools and balaclavas for an early morning raid at Nando’s, a court heard.
Gavin Paul Johnson and Keiron Christopher Kelly were spotted at the back of the restaurant off Old Potts Way by a man who was dropping a friend off after a night out, at about 1.30am on March 11.
Johnson and Kelly broke into the restaurant through a rear window, smashed a CCTV system and stole a dashcam that was a present for an employee. They also took a push bike belonging to an employee that was locked up outside.
They escaped via the M54 and were caught by police between Junctions 4 and 5, near Telford town centre.
The pair, of Birmingham, were given suspended sentences on Friday at Shrewsbury Crown Court.
Prosecuting barrister Rob Edwards said a worker at the restaurant had tipped off police after spotting the van parked in the bin yard. that Alex Dando, who worked at the restaurant, was dropping a friend off nearby when he noticed a white van parked in the bin yard.
He thought it was unusual and continued to watch, and rang his manager to check if anyone had permission to be there at the time. He left and returned a few times, and alerted police.
Mr Edwards said that at one point Mr Dando saw a man run from behind the van, and eventually saw the van leave without turning its lights on.
It was intercepted near Telford and the men arrested. Kelly was the driver, and the van turned out to be stolen and have false plates.
Inside was the stolen bike and dashcam, as well as a crowbar, wire cutters and balaclavas.
At Worcester Magistrates Court the next day the two men pleaded guilty to burglary and theft. Kelly also admitted driving without insurance or a valid licence.
The crown court heard that Johnson has convictions for 69 offences including intimidating a witness in 2004, and burglaries in 2016 and 2017. Kelly has 12 convictions for 19 offences, including theft and assaulting a police officer.
Philip Beardwell, representing Johnson, said that his offending was often attributable to his drug use and lack of maturity, connected with learning difficulties including dyslexia. And Inderdeep Bhomra, for Kelly, said that he was drinking on the day of the thefts, had accrued gambling debts of £15,000 to £20,000 and was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
Johnson, 34, of Clent Way in Bartley Green, and Kelly, 25, of Pipe Hayes Road in Birmingham, were both given six-month sentences for the burglary, suspended for two years, at Shrewsbury Crown Court on Friday. There were no separate penalties for the theft of the bicycle, but Kelly had his licence endorsed and was banned from driving for 18 months.
They were also both made subject to a curfew between 9pm and 6am for three months, and told to complete 20 rehabilitation activity days.
Judge Jonathan Gosling said: “This was a serious crime because you planned it. You both travelled from Birmingham in a van, you have come with tools to break in and balaclavas should anyone try to identify you, and you caused quite a bit of damage to the property.”
He described Johnson as a “career criminal” and said to Kelly: “You drink and gamble to a chronic degree.”
But he said that the two had improved their behaviour recently, and that they would not receive further support with their rehabilitation if he imposed immediate sentences on them.
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