Cashpoint robbers get jail sentence of 38 years

Alea Casino where the men used the stolen cash.
Alea Casino where the men used the stolen cash.

Three violent career criminals have received jail sentences totalling 38 years for a knife-point robbery in which £10,000 was stolen from supermarket security guards.

David Connor, 39, Paul Harper, 33, and Craig Melia, 35, were yesterday (July 24) handed long sentences over the raid at the Co-op store, Oakwood Lane, Leeds, on October 1 last year.

Three security guards were filling the machine when they were confronted by two of the men. A knife was held to one guard’s throat.

The robbers fled with a box of cash and were driven off by a third man.

A short time later the car was found abandoned and three men were seen walking off from it. The car was forensically examined and Harper’s DNA was found on the steering wheel.

Later that day Connor and Harper are shown on CCTV in a pawn shop on York Road. Connor is seen checking his legs and hands with a UV lamp – looking for traces of invisible security dye that was in a device on the cash box.

On October 3, staff at Alea casino in Leeds became suspicious of three men using their machines – checks showed dyed money in them. CCTV identified the men as Harper, Connor and Melia.

Forensic examination of the dye on the recovered notes showed they came from the cashbox at the Co-op robbery. All three pleaded guilty to robbery.

Connor, of Neville Mount, Osmondthorpe, also pleaded guilty to a robbery of a Post Office in Burley-in-Wharfedale in February while on bail for the other offence. He was jailed for a total of 17 years and told he must serve at least 12 years before he can apply to the parole board for release.

Harper, of Rookwood Mount, Osmondthorpe, was jailed for 11 years, and Melia, of Gipton Approach, Gipton, was jailed for 10 years.

Detective Sergeant Marcus Dawson, of North East Leeds Division, said: “These men were an organised criminal gang who put their victims through a terrifying ordeal motivated purely by greed for money.”