Armed raiders have been jailed after they targeted staff at a tourist attraction and threatened to hack off one woman’s fingers with a machete.
Two members of the gang were caught less than two hours after taking more than £4,000 in cash in the terrifying raid at Hatton Country World near Warwick.
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.
The Courier asked Warwickshire Police for photos of the offenders but they refused to release them on the grounds that they still face “outstanding charges or matters”.
Covington, aged 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, aged 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.
The attack happened on July 23 last year when the robbers, armed with a machete and hammer, ordered female workers to open the safes. One of the women, originally from South Africa, had been subjected to a similar armed robbery before.
When she was unable to do what the robbers demanded she was ordered to put her hands on top of the safe. The man an with the machete - who has not been caught by police - threatened to cut her fingers off, bringing the machete down as if to carry out his threat.
The three raiders, who also took a handbag belonging to one of the women, then left with a total of £4,371 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 that both men had a large number of previous convictions, and in 2008 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.
Jaling the two men, Judge 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.
“You had to be aware that weapons were to be carried, and the reason was so they could be used if necessary.
“It was plain you would have known this was a facility staffed by women who would be obliged to cash up at the end of the day when all others had left the premises.
“You McNulty had what was described as a hammer but is more aptly described as an ice axe. It is a terrifying weapon, and your accomplice had a machete.
“The problem with the carrying of weapons like this is that if people resist, they are readily used.”
Outlining the aggravating features of the case, the judge said: “This was a pre-planned offence, you wore disguises and were armed, and this was an offence against vulnerable women.”
And he added: “The message must go out from this court that those who commit violent robberies against vulnerable members of the public must expect condign punishment.”