Two brothers have been jailed for a combined total of almost 14 years after they ram-raided a Northamptonshire Co-op during a violent crime spree that involved burglary, robbery, grievous bodily harm, dangerous driving and theft of almost £6,000 of tobacco.
The pair both pleaded guilty to the burglary after they reversed a Honda 4x4 into the front of the store in Brackley, then ran in with large carrier bags and forced open the cigarette booth, stealing up to £6,000 worth of products.
Adam Lewis, aged 27, was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison after he organised the burglary, drove the Honda into the store and then attacked a passerby, causing him serious facial injuries, before stealing the victim’s girlfriend’s car.
Lewis was also banned from driving for seven years after he drove the second stolen car dangerously, crashing into several cars - including a police car - speeding and driving the wrong way around a roundabout.
Matthew Sherry, aged 31, was given a prison sentence of five years and four months for his involvement in the ram-raid, which was committed while he was on a conditional discharge for shoplifting.
Prosecuting, Jenna Allen, said that they had driven the stolen Honda from Oxfordshire in the early hours of September 3 last year and drove it into the Co-op, before entering with the bags and stealing cigaretts and tobacco.
A nearby resident, woken by the crash, went outside and took the keys from the car.
The court heard that when Lewis realised the keys had gone, he approached a different passerby and punched him in the mouth, knocking him to the floor. He then kicked the victim in the face, causing cuts and a tear to his retina, before “wrestling” car keys belonging to his girlfriend from her and stealing her Mini Cooper.
Police arrived as the pair tried to make their getaway and Lewis reversed into their car, crashed into the passerby’s Mercedes and two other parked cars, before driving away. He was described as “driving dangerously”, swerving around lorries and speeding until he was stopped by police stingers and arrested.
Chotalia Satya, in mitigation for Lewis, said his client felt “genuine remorse” for the assault on the passer-by.
He said: “It was out of character for him. It was a foolish action committed out of panic and fear in the heat of the moment as he was trying to escape. Mr Lewis would like to meet with the victim to explain that and apologise. He regularly supports charities and wants to turn away from crime. He is disgusted with himself.”
Lewis, who has been in prison before, has a history of 75 offences, including shoplifting and taking vehicles, and was on licence for a previous offence when the ram-raid took place. He pleaded guilty to seven charges, including aggravated taking without consent of a vehicle, burglary, grievous and actual bodily harm, robbery of a motor vehicle, dangerous driving and failing to provide a breath specimen.
Sherry also has a history of theft and burglary offences, as well as assault and drug-related crime. He admitted aggravated taking without consent of the vehicle and the burglary of the Co-op;
In mitigation for Sherry, Stuart Matthews, said: “It was a moment of weakness and stupidity that allowed him to get into the vehicle his brother had obtained for the burglary. He did not understand the nature of what was going to happen and was horrified by it.”
Judge Timothy Smith said: “The burglary was certainly planned and both defendants had full knowledge of what was going to happen. This is more serious than a normal buglary as it involved deliberate planning, a stolen vehicle, damage to premises, breach of peace and significant dangerous driving.”
He added that, even though both defendants had been drinking during the afternoon before the crim, “alcohol is not, and has never been, an excuse.”
Judge Smith gave Lewis, of Oxford, a sentence of four years and nine months custody for the burglary and three years and five months for grievous bodily harm to run concurrently, as well as 12 months consecutively for dangerous driving.
Sherry, of Banbury, received two concurrent sentences of nine months, 10 months and four years and five months for the burglary and car theft.
Both were also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120 each.
Detective Inspector Phil Mills, from Daventry and South Northants CID, said: “I welcome the sentence handed down by the judge in this case.
“This was a particularly nasty incident which saw two members of the public injured as they intervened, one of them significantly.
“The incident had a big impact on many people in Brackley with Lewis and Sherry showing little regard for their many victims in their pursuit to steal cigarettes, committing a multitude of crimes along the way.
“I would like to thank those people who stepped-in for their bravery, especially the two members of the public who were injured as a result of their actions.”