Louth

Failed masked robber and getaway driver jailed

A masked man armed with an axe was overpowered when he tried to rob a Louth shop, Lincoln Crown Court was told on Friday.

Steven Lea hid his face with the mask when he walked into the Premier Express store in Newmarket in the town and brandished the axe as he demanded money.

Phil Howes, prosecuting, said that the store manager and his father, who were carrying out a stock take, confronted Lea.

“There was a struggle and some of the clothing the defendant was wearing was removed and the mask came off.

“Lea ran off and jumped into a small red car and was driven away.

“The axe was left behind and was used by the father of the shop manager to smash a window of the car as it left.”

Mr Howes said the car was seen by police two hours later with a smashed window as it was being driven in Louth.

The vehicle was followed into St Bernard’s Avenue where it was stopped and the driver Gary Cartwright was arrested. Cartwright told officers he had bought the car a few days earlier.

DNA found on the discarded mask then led police to charge Lea.

The court heard that Lea had 43 previous convictions for over 100 offences and Cartwright had 36 previous convictions for 85 offences.

Lea, 40, of Chatsworth Drive, Louth, admitted charges of attempted robbery and possession of a bladed article as a result of the incident on May 31 this year. He was jailed for four years.

Steven Lea, 40, of Chatsworth Drive, Louth, was jailed for four years. Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Cartwright, 44, of Northgate, Louth, admitted attempted robbery on the basis that he was the getaway driver and did not know the axe was going to be used. He also admitted driving while disqualified. He was jailed for two years and one month.

Gary Cartwright, 44, of Northgate, Louth, was jailed for two years and one month. Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Michael Cranmer-Brown, for Lea, described the raid as a spontaneous offence.

He said that on the previous day Lea met his ex-partner to discuss arrangements for her mother’s funeral before then finding himself refused entry to his father’s house.

Mr Cranmer-Brown said that Lea bought some alcohol and then met up with Cartwright. The pair spent the night drinking at the home of a friend of Cartwright before carrying out the raid just after 9 am.

“He didn’t have any sleep that night. He only has a hazy recollection of events leading up to the attempted robbery.

“Mr Lea is a very large man. When there was resistance he didn’t try to use the axe or throw any punches. His sole desire was to get out of the store.”

Caroline Skeet, for Cartwright, said: “This was very spontaneous. It was very unplanned. Mr Lea was very quickly overpowered.”

She said that Cartwright was remorseful for the fact that the axe was used during the raid.

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