Jailed: Bookie robbers who tried to fool police

TWO bookie robbers who tried to fool police by filling out betting slips as officers walked in on the raid have each been jailed for three years.

Jermaine Bent, 18, and 17-year-old Kevin Daniel stormed into an east London branch of William Hill hoping to grab thousands of pounds but were caught in the act by two police constables.

The officers had spotted the masked men running towards the shop in Barking Road, Canning Town, from their patrol car.

The teenagers, who have street gang links, were put up to the “crude escapade” by older members who supplied them with a fake pistol, Inner London Crown Court heard.

Bent and Daniel claimed duress but were each convicted of the robbery plot following a trial, said Paul Walker, prosecuting.

A third suspect aged 17 fled moments before the raid and was cleared.

Pc Emma Knight and a colleague were passing at around 9pm on February 2, when they saw the three men running across the busy road to the betting shop.

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“The police officers thought there may be a robbery,” said the prosecutor.

“They were quite right. They pulled over and got out.

“Looking through the window they could see that customers and staff inside appeared concerned.’

The teenagers approached the counter where cashier James Alao was serving and one reached inside his jacket.

But he changed his attitude when the uniformed officers walked in and they quickly pulled off their disguises.

The barrister said: “One pulled his scarf down and started to reassure Mr Alao that it was OK and he tried to shake his hand.

“One of them started writing out a betting slip as if he was an ordinary customer.”

Daniel told officers who cornered him: “I come here all the time. I know these people.”

And gunman Bent protested: “I’m placing a bet.”

But police found an “extremely realistic” Glock-like pistol in a pouch around his neck.

Passing sentence Judge Austin Issard-Davies said: “The plan was the three of you should enter the shop, threaten the cashier with an extremely realistic looking imitation firearm.

“No doubt by using that gun you planned to obtain access to where the cash was held.

“The plan failed because as you were about to enter the shop a police car was passing and spotted the masks and hoods you were wearing as you crossed the road.

“I accept for what it’s worth, that the plan wasn’t yours.

“I’m satisfied that this crude escapade was directed by older persons, no doubt part of a gang, and it was an opportunity for you to prove yourselves.”

The court heard Bent has convictions for theft, disorderly behaviour and drugs offences, and Daniel for theft and burglary.

Daniel, of Roosevelt Way, Dagenham, and Bent, of Norbury Avenue, Thornton Heath, south east London, denied conspiracy to rob and possessing an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence, but were both convicted.

The judge lifted a reporting ban on naming the pair who were both under 18 when they first appeared in court proceedings.