An armed robber who used an imitation pistol to terrify shop staff has been jailed for 14 years.
Keith Shaw from Highweek, Newton Abbot, led a gang which attacked a man in his own home in Bovey Tracey and went on to target two shops in Torbay.
He used a replica pistol which he was able to buy in his mother’s name from Trago Mills just hours before he set out on his crime spree.
His first attack was on a man he thought was a drug dealer. He and henchman William Ryan burst into his home and threatened to shoot him if he did not give them drugs and money.
Shaw pushed the barrel of the realistic-looking BB gun inside his mouth and pistol-whipped him so savagely he lost consciousness.
The next raid was on the Best One store in Paignton where two workers were ambushed as they were locking up. Shaw pushed the gun so hard into the neck of one that he left a visible mark.
They fled almost empty-handed because the workers were too junior to have access to the safe, but Shaw and sidekick Stanley Lloyd struck again at a Domino pizza shop in St Marychurch six days later.
Shaw was caught on CCTV as he brandished the gun and Lloyd threatened staff with a hammer in the 2.30am attack. They snatched £1,468 takings after forcing them to open the strong room.
One female worker was so petrified by the robbery she could be seen fainting onto the floor as the men made their getaway on foot.
Shaw, aged 42, of Kiln Orchard, Highweek; Ryan, aged 48, of Snowberry Close, Torquay; and Lloyd, aged 47, of Torquay Road, Kingskerswell, all admitted conspiracy to rob with an imitation firearm.
Shaw also admitted possession of a firearm while a prohibited person. He was jailed for 14 years; Ryan for 10 years and Lloyd for eight years by Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.
He told them: ’All these robberies had a profound effect on the victims. They feared for their lives and what you did will have a lasting effect on them.
’The most serious was the first, because it was a cruel and vicious robbery of a man in his own home which included considerable violence and in which the gun was put inside his mouth and he was beaten unconscious.
’In the second robbery, the members of staff were terrified for their lives and threats were made to shoot them or cut their throats.
’In the robbery at Domino’s Pizza a female member of staff had the gun pressed into her repeatedly and threats were made to shoot her.’
Mr Peter Coombe, prosecuting, said Shaw bought the Dan Wesson .177 BB gun at Trago Mills on August 28 last year. He used his mother’s name because his previous convictions meant he was banned from owning the weapon.
That night he and Ryan went to the house in Fore Street, Bovey Tracey, of a man who had offered to supply them with diazepam and beat him until he told them where he kept his money. They left with his watch, some prescription drugs and a few hundred pounds.
He had the gun put into his mouth by Shaw and was left with severe bruising after being attacked by both men.
The robbery at the Best One shop in Paignton took place on September 18 with all three taking part. They threatened to shoot or cut the throats of the two members of staff, but only stole cigarettes.
One of them picked up the wrong rucksack, meaning their own was left at the scene and police were able to trace Ryan from DNA on his clothing. A picture on his phone showed the others had been with him on that night.
The raid on Domino’s happened at around 2.30am on September 24 when Shaw and Lloyd got in through a back door which had been left open to ventilate the kitchen.
They were wearing balaclavas and forced two staff to hand over cash and the CCTV footage showed a female worker fainting in terror as they left.
Mr Hugh Forgan, for Shaw, Mr Paul Dentith, for Ryan, and Mr David Sapiecha, for Lloyd said their clients had all overcome drug addiction in the past but been drawn into using heroin again in the months before the robberies.
Mr Forgan said Shaw’s marriage had broken up and he spent a £10,000 back payment of disability allowance on heroin in a matter of weeks before getting into debt and turning to crime.
Mr Dentith said Ryan started using drugs to control pain from a knee injury and Mr Sapiecha said Lloyd turned to drugs after the death of his sister.
Following the verdict, a police spokesman said that during the robberies probe it became apparent to investigating officers that there was a link to the aggravated burglary.
Offenders Keith Shaw and William Ryan were arrested, interviewed, charged and put before the court at the end of September 2016.
Offender Stanley Lloyd was arrested, interviewed, charged and put before the court at the end of March 2017.
Det Insp Kay Chapman said: ’In all three offences a real-looking revolver was used to make threats, intimidate and subject the witnesses to a violent and extremely frightening ordeal. It left them all extremely traumatised and shaken.
’The tenacious investigation by Torbay CID was in-depth and enabled the successful prosecution of Keith Shaw, William Ryan and Stanley Lloyd.
’I would like to thank all the witnesses who supported this investigation in order to bring them to justice.’