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Men jailed for total of 23 years for robberies including the Formby Waitrose robbery

From left to right - Alan Simpson, David Rotheram and James McEvoy

Two security guards had ammonia sprayed in their face during £45,000 robberies at Formby and Wavertree supermarkets. David Rotheram, 33, was jailed for 12 years over the terrifying attacks, plus another £30,000 cash-in-transit raid in Old Swan.

Rotheram was joined in the dock at Liverpool Crown Court by Alan Simpson, 34, and James McEvoy, 28, who also took part in that raid. Jonathan Rogers, prosecuting, said masked Rotheram and Simpson confronted Michael Rowland outside the Santander bank in Prescot Road at around 5pm on July 31 last year.

They chased the G4S worker, with one shouting “don’t be a d***head, just leave it you don’t want to get hurt”. A witness said Rotheram had a baton and Simpson shouted “I’ve got a gun”. Mr Rowland dropped the cash box. They fled in a stolen Vauxhall Astra, got out in Wharncliffe Road and ran through bollards before jumping in taxi driver McEvoy’s Ford Mondeo.

They went back to Simpson’s property in Hawkins Street, Kensington, where they smashed open the box and tried to wash the dyed money.

Smart liquid inside the box was later detected at the home, while Rotheram and Simpson’s clothes were disposed of by Joseph McGowan, 32, who ditched them in two bags outside his property, also in Hawkins Street.

On December 9 last year, Rotheram targeted Loomis worker Peter Hopkins at Waitrose in Formby, approaching in a stolen Mercedes.

He sprayed him in the face with ammonia from a tube and although Mr Hopkins was wearing a helmet and visor, he tasted stinging pepper.

Rotheram made off with £20,000 and fled in the Mercedes, which was found abandoned and bearing his DNA.

On January 29 this year, Rotheram struck at Asda in Smithdown Road, twice spraying ammonia at Loomis worker John Johnson and taking £25,000.

The victim’s eyes and face started to burn and he kicked out and threw the cash box at Rotheram, who escaped in a stolen BMW.

He was taken to hospital and suffered burning tissue in his nose, which started to bleed.

Rotheram ditched the BMW in Belle Vale. The cash box was found in Allerton Cemetery, where he used a stolen Mercedes to try and crush it open against a tree.

None of the money, save for £1,000 in notes covered in dye from the Old Swan raid, was recovered.

Rotheram, of Baron’s Hey, West Derby, admitted three robberies.

Julian Nutter, defending, said he had a “horrible” cocaine addiction, adding: “The cartilage of his nose has dissolved.”

He said the liquid did not cause serious injuries, to which Judge Steven Everett replied: “Had there been, I would probably be thinking life imprisonment.”

Simpson - on licence having served half of a 40-month sentence for burglary - admitted robbery and remaining unlawfully at large after recall to prison.

Kate Morley, representing Simpson, of no fixed address, said the dad-of-two had a drug problem and carried out the robbery as a “one-off”.

Paul Treble, defending McEvoy, of Bevan’s Lane, West Derby, who has no previous convictions and admitted robbery, said the remorseful dad-of-one was the getaway driver.

McGowan, of Seymour Road, Broadgreen, who has learning difficulties, admitted perverting the course of justice.

John Rowan, representing McGowan, said the dad-of-three was not a sophisticated criminal, shown by “the crude way” he disposed of the clothes directly outside his property.

Judge Everett said the gang’s planning was “considerable and professional” but “it wasn’t particularly well executed”.

He handed Simpson six and a half years behind bars and McEvoy five years for “unbelievably” getting involved.

The judge said McGowan “was just a dogsbody” and handed him 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, plus a four-month home curfew.

Detective Chief Inspector Tom Keaton said: “During 2016 we have seen a 50% reduction in cash in transit robberies compared with the same period last year but we are not complacent.

“Robberies against local businesses greatly affect those who work there and their customers who are local people themselves.

“I want to reassure the community that we are committed to tackling this type of crime and bringing offenders such as these to justice. We are also working with businesses to ensure they have comprehensive CCTV systems and other security measures to deter such crimes and help us to catch offenders.

“Today’s sentencing sends a very clear message and shows how seriously both the courts and the police take offences of robbery at local businesses on Merseyside.”

Original Report on December 9th 2015:


Merseyside Police are on the hunt for thieves who made off with a box of cash during a robbery at a Formby supermarket. Two men, seen driving a silver Mercedes, launched the raid at the Three Tuns Lane supermarket at around 9.10am.

The incident took place at the Waitrose store in the village this morning; the same day police launched a clampdown on cash-in-transit robberies in the run up to Christmas.

Merseyside Police can confirm they are today, Wednesday 9 December, at the scene of a robbery in Formby.

Officers were called to Waitrose on Three Tuns Lane, at 9.10am, to reports that a male had approached the crew of a cash in transit van and stolen a cash box.

The male offender, who was wearing a high visibility jacket and had his face covered with a mask, then made off in a silver Mercedes vehicle that was later found abandoned in Watchyard Lane.

No-one was injured during the incident.

A Formby resident who was at Waitrose shortly after the attack said: “A member of staff said a security guard making a cash delivery was hit over the head in the car park outside the store by two men, who grabbed his case and sped off. It’s a bit unnerving for something like that to happen in what’s an otherwise safe and sleepy village.“

Sadly, as Christmas gets closer, some people get greedy and would rather steal and hurt someone who is just doing their job than earn a living themselves. “I just hope they are caught and the guard isn't too badly injured.”

The security guard suffered minor injuries. Part of the car park remained cordoned off this morning. A police investigation is under way.

A force spokesman said: “Officers were called to Waitrose on Three Tuns Lane at 9.10am to reports that a male had approached the crew of a cash-in-transit van and stolen a cash box.“The male offender, who was wearing a high visibility jacket and had his face covered with a mask, then made off in a silver Mercedes vehicle that was later found abandoned in Watchyard Lane.“

Enquiries are ongoing and CCTV and forensic opportunities are being explored.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Merseyside Police Major Crime Unit on 0800 230 0600 or the confidential Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.

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