Jail for armed bunglers

PUBLISHED: 11:19 02 February 2007 | UPDATED: 19:56 01 June 2010

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AN armed robber who gave himself up after 16 months on the run when his face appeared on BBC s Crimewatch, was jailed this week for seven years. Lincoln Crown Court heard that Paul Rooprai, 32, of The Bank, Parson Drove, was arrested on the day of the bun

AN armed robber who gave himself up after 16 months on the run when his face appeared on BBC's Crimewatch, was jailed this week for seven years.

Lincoln Crown Court heard that Paul Rooprai, 32, of The Bank, Parson Drove, was arrested on the day of the bungled raid but then skipped bail.

Caroline English, in mitigation, said Rooprai had little recollection of what happened on the night of the raid because of drink and drugs but should be given credit for admitting his guilt at the first opportunity.

The court was told that Rooprai tried to blast open the front door of a post office near Spalding with three shots from a pump action shotgun.

He and his two accomplices, all masked, had expected the door to open immediately as they had seen in films, said prosecutor Michael Cranmer-Brown.

They tried again but were unsuccessful and then fled in a Ford Granada which crashed after one of the gang, Charlie Carman, 24, of Coronation Avenue, Throckenholt, tried to drive without headlights.

Their bungling continued, said Mr Cranmer-Brown, when they set fire to the car and then ran off over fields but went in the wrong direction, running straight back to the village of Weston and near to the post office they had tried to rob.

There they were arrested by police alerted by a 999 call from postmaster Malcolm Smith and his wife Carol who lived in an adjoining house.

The incident was captured on CCTV film covering the outside of the post office.

When police checked security film inside the post office they also discovered Carman and Stuart Walton, 25, of Cedar Cottage, Postland, Crowland, had visited the previous day and carefully examined the ATM machine.

Walton and Carman, denied attempted aggravated burglary and possession of a firearm with intent to commit an offence in the early hours of May 25 2005, but were convicted last year.

Rooprai admitted attempted aggravated burglary and possession of a firearm with intent.

Walton, who also admitted dangerous driving, and possession of drugs, a bladed article, a shotgun and criminal property, was jailed for 10 years and banned from driving for three years.

Carman was jailed for nine years and Rooprai for seven years.

Judge Michael Heath told them: "This was a carefully planned assault on a soft target. You tried to do a professional job but you did not."

Barry Gilbert, for Walton, said "Whilst this was a serious offence it was committed in the most inept way. They never even tried the door."

Mark Gatley, for Carman, said "This wasn't a professional job. It was a job carried out by stupid young men who had not thought through the consequences.

"They learned that day that things don't work in real life as they do in films.

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