TWO men have been cleared of trying to steal takings from Trago Mills after telling a jury they had nothing to do with the raid.
Former Trago security man Matthew Jagla and his friend Samuel Boon were acquitted in less than an hour after telling a jury that their DNA got onto gloves and a hat found in the getaway car by accident.
They said they had both worked on the Ford Mondeo two months before the failed robbery and must have left the items in it at the time.
The men said a spike in phone traffic between them in the 36 hours before the failed robbery was due to them discussing buying cars to do up and sell for a profit.
Lawyers representing both men told the jury there was no direct evidence of either man’s involvement in the bungled robbery at the Stover store in December 2018.
They argued that the jury could not be sure of their guilt and said their explanations of the apparently incriminating evidence was implausible.
Jagla, aged 29, of The Strand, Dawlish, and Boon, aged 28, of Coombe Lane, Torquay, both denied attempted robbery and were found not guilty.
The prosecution alleged they were two of three masked men who drove a silver Mondeo onto the pavement at the Stover site at exactly the moment when a guard was transferring £1,644 takings from the Build Centre DIY store to the main shop.
CCTV from night of December 17, 2018 showed the car pulling up as security man Matthew Fleet pulled the cash across a car park in a wheeled shopping basket and two men getting out, carrying what looked like weapons.
Mr Fleet realised what they were planning before they even opened the door and fled back to the safety of the Build Centre, leaving the men to clamber back in the car as it drove off.
It was later found abandoned close to Jagla’s former home at Oliver Place, Heathfield. DNA from both men was found on two sets of latex gloves and DNA from Boon’s saliva was found on a Snap-On tools hat that had been turned into a balaclava by cutting out holes for the eyes.
Boon told the jury that he had worked on the Mondeo about two months before at the workshop where he is employed in Torquay and must have left a glove it.
He said he may have touched the hat on the back seat while ‘rustling around in the car.
He said he was allowed to do some private work on customers’ cars after hours and that Jagla helped him on some occasions.
He denied having any involvement in or knowledge of the attempted robbery. He said: ‘I had worked on the car and knew the car, but I had nothing to do with any robbery.’
Jagla said he worked at Trago Mills at the time and had been a friend of Boon since schooldays. They often met up for a drink or to play snooker.
He said he was not working on December 17, 2018 because of a chronic kidney condition and went to pick up his girlfriend from work in Paignton but had not met Boon or returned with him to Trago Mills.
He said his DNA must have got on the glove when he had helped Boon work on the car a few weeks earlier.
Asked if he took part in the raid, he said: ‘No. I didn’t play any part at all in it. I was not in that car and I wasn’t out of it. I guess I would have been at home. I wasn’t in a silver Mondeo.’