St Albans supermarket raiders evade jail sentences

Budgens at the Quadrant in St Albans

Budgens at the Quadrant in St Albans - Credit: Archant

TWO would-be burglars who tried to force their way into a supermarket in St Albans in the middle of the night have been given suspended prison sentences.

Tony Prescott, 36, and Luke Blakeley, 25, attempted to break into Budgens in The Quadrant, Marshalswick, via the back door at around midnight on Wednesday, March 19.

While the men, both of Borehamwood, denied the offence at a previous trial, they were found guilty and sentenced last Thursday when they appeared at St Albans Magistrates Court.

Prosecutor Victoria Marriot told the court a man watching from his bedroom window had called the police after he saw two men lurking around the back of Budgens armed with what was thought to be a crowbar and covering themselves with a duvet.

When the police arrived the pair fled the scene in the direction of Barclays Bank and became involved in a police chase. Prescott and Blakely were tracked down by officers near The Ridgeway and arrested.

Ms Marriot said a crowbar and blanket had been found at the rear of the store and described the damage to the building as “extensive”.

During police interview Prescott, of Shenley Road, refused to answer any questions but accepted he had run away from officers. He also said he had got off a bus in St Albans on his way to visit his girlfriend in Hatfield to buy two cans of beer but was not drunk.

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Blakeley, of Aberford Road, admitted being in St Albans as he was dropping his washing off to a family member but denied the attempted robbery.

The court also heard Prescott had failed to attend his appointment with the probation service so a pre-sentence report was unable to be prepared. His defence solicitor appealed to the bench to adjourn the case again but the request was declined.

Speaking on behalf of Prescott he added that his last offence of this kind was nearly 10 years ago and asked for this to be taken into consideration.

Defending Blakeley, Patrick O’Reilly also asked for the case to be adjourned as while his client had told the probation service during his meeting he would not comply with a community order, he had now had a change of heart.

He went on to describe him as a “young man with a number of issues” and said he still maintained his innocence and was going to appeal against his conviction. Addressing the pair, chair of the bench Bernard Greenwold, said: “This does pass the custodial threshold on the basis this attempted burglary was planned and you went equipped.”

He handed them an 12-month suspended sentence and four-week curfew seven days a week between 7pm and 7am.

They were also ordered to each pay £200 in court costs, £200 in compensation for the damage to Budgens and an £80 victim surcharge.