“Armed” car-jackers jailed for 12 years after targeting female drivers

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A court has heard how a desperate mum-of-two pleaded with an armed car-jacker to let her get her nine-month-old baby son out her vehicle during a terrifying robbery at a Halifax supermarket.

Emma Taylor had gone to the Sainsbury’s car park on Wade Street last December to do some recycling, but just before 9.30am she was confronted by a man carrying a black BB handgun.

Sainsbury, Halifax.

Sainsbury, Halifax.

Prosecutor Syam Soni said the robber demanded the keys to her Volkswagen car and grabbed them from the complainant’s hand.

During the incident the car was accidently locked with the young baby inside and the robber and his accomplice fled with the keys after the complainant began to shout and scream.

In her victim impact statement Emma Taylor said the attackers must have seen the baby in the car.

“I was shouting I’ve got a baby and still he threatened me with the gun,” she said in her statement.

“At one point I said let me get my baby out I was so desperate.

“It seemed to go on for a long time and I did wonder why he didn’t shoot me. I do think what would have happened if they drove off with (the baby) in the car. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

“I still cannot believe I went to a supermarket car park and this happened.”

The robbers, 36-year-old Frank Simpson and 27-year-old Jordan Hartley, fled in the Ford Fiesta vehicle which they had car-jacked nine hours earlier from an off-duty police officer on a petrol station forecourt in Tong Street, Bradford.

But the vehicle was tracked by the police helicopter and the pair were arrested in the Queensbury area about 20 minutes after the supermarket robbery.

Prosecutor Syam Soni told Bradford Crown Court today (Monday) that because the Volkswagen had been locked officers had to smash a window to rescue the baby boy.

During the petrol station car-jacking Simpson and Hartley had confronted off-duty officer Alison Wilkinson as she returned to her vehicle from the kiosk just after midnight on December 1.

Mr Soni said the pair were wearing balaclavas and although the victim did not see a gun they threatened to shoot her or stab her if she did not hand over the keys.

In her victim impact statement the mum-of-two described how she had suffered sleepless nights after the attack and had had dreams about guns.

“All of this has had a long-lasting effect on me and my family through no fault of my own,” she added.

The court heard that both Simpson, of Carr House Road, Halifax, and Hartley, of Denbrook Close, Bradford, had dozens of previous convictions including offences of robbery.

Both men were on prison licence at the time of car-jackings and both pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and possessing an imitation firearm at the time of the commission of an offence.

Barrister Ken Green, for Simpson, said his client had abandoned the robbery after seeing the baby in the back seat of the car.

He said Simpson had expressed sincere remorse and wanted to apologise to both victims for his behaviour.

Jailing the pair for 12 years Judge Neil Davey QC said they armed themselves with an imitation firearm and had targeted women who were on their own.

In reference to Emma Taylor’s ordeal Judge Davey said:”I have no doubt that at least one of you, being a father, will understand just how terrifying it must have been for her to witness her baby being put in such danger by a man brandishing a gun.”

Judge Davey said the pair were heavily under the influence of drugs and alcohol and had committed offences to fund their habit.

He sentenced Simpson and Hartley to seven years in jail for the two robbery offences with a further five years imposed for the possession of the imitation firearm.

Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Gary Stephenson of Calderdale CID said; “Both victims in this case were lone females. During the first incident in the early hours of the morning, the victim was threatened and though she did not see a gun, the offenders threatened to shoot her.

“In the second incident, in broad daylight, the victim was in a supermarket carpark with her 9 month old son in the rear of the vehicle. Again the offenders threatened her with a gun and made demands for her car keys.

“It clearly does not bear thinking about the outcome, but for the intervention by members of the public.

“Both incidents can only be described as horrific and carried out by two men who lack any common decency or respect.

Hopefully the victims in this case can move on with their lives, whilst Hartley and Simpson come to terms with a lengthy time in jail.”