Burglars who had led police on a dramatic chase through Northampton enlisted 45-year-old mum as a 'getaway driver' jury finds

A woman who acted as a momentary getaway driver for a set of burglars when they arrived at Weston Favell shopping centre at the end of a dramatic police chase across town has been convicted.

Thursday, 8th December 2016, 8:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 2:17 pm
Police officers at Weston Favell Shopping Centre in May 2015. Picture via Jamie Mason.

On May 19, 2015, four burglars in a black Audi were involved in a high-speed pursuit across three counties, starting at Warwickshire and ending in Northampton, which culminated at the shopping centre at around 4.30pm that day.

Officers tracked the vehicle across three counties with the police helicopter and eye-witnesses reported pedestrians almost being hit by the vehicle when it sped through Northampton town centre.

But when the burglars arrived at Weston Favell Shopping Centre, prosecutors say two of the men then piled into a Ford S-Max people carrier driven by Kay Devlin, of Sywell Road, Overstone. One of the men got out almost immediately.

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Following a three-day trial this week, the jury found Devlin, 46, guilty of assisting an offender, even though she only drove one of the men out of the shopping centre car park and into the car park of B & M Bargains in Billing Brook Road.

There she got out of her car to inform police, men had tried to enter her car. Her four-year-old son had remained in the booster seat throughout the incident.

But prosecutor Joey Kwong said Devlin's phone showed numerous calls had been made to an "intermediary," who had also made calls to a person inside the Audi in the 40 minutes before the burglars arrived at Weston Favell.

It was accepted that she had been at the centre with her children legitimately beforehand and was effectively enlisted by the gang at the last minute.

The jury of seven men and five women returned a guilty verdict yesterday, though her defence barrister Matthew Kirk said the charge was "absurd."

He said: "Surely the point of a getaway driver is that they actually get away. They are not supposed to stop, they are not supposed to freeze.

"How can they build a case on a getaway driver of a car, which gets going and then stops?"

Devlin was due to appear for trial on Monday alongside her son James Devlin, but he pleaded guilty to assisting an offender on the first day of the trial.

She will be sentenced on January 16 following probation reports.

Three of the burglars involved in the dramatic chase in May 2015 remain at large. Only gang ringleader William Connors has been convicted for the burglary, receiving a 15-month sentence.