Two thieves receive 11 year jail sentence

Jailed: Michael Scanlon and Gavin Reilly

Jailed: Michael Scanlon and Gavin Reilly

Two robbers who were members of an armed gang which terrorised women shop workers have been jailed for a total of 22 years.

Michael Scanlon and Gavin Reilly wore masks and brandished weapons including an axe, hammers and crowbars to leave victims “trembling with fear”, Judge Amjad Nawaz said.

The robbers struck at 23 stores in just three months and escaped with £35,000 of cigarettes and £12,000 in cash – but the figure could have been “significantly greater.”

Jailing Scanlon and Reilly for 11 years each, the judge said: “This was, in my judgment, a well-planned and orchestrated series of robberies.”

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard the gang struck as the stores were about to open or close and used stolen cars with false registration plates.

They targeted petrol stations, bookmakers, off-licences and convenience stores in Upper Gornal, Dudley, Cradley Heath, Kingswinford, Stourbridge, Netherton, Wall Heath, Dudley Port, Tividale, Wolverhampton, Wombourne, West Bromwich, Coseley and Tipton.

Scanlon, aged 34, of Rocket Pool Drive, Bilston, and Reilly, also aged 34, formerly of Tipton Road, Sedgley, both denied conspiracy with others to rob stores.

But a jury took less than two hours to find them guilty after a three-week trial.

Gerry Quirke, prosecuting, said the gang’s reign of terror lasted from September 27 last year until January 4.

They even carried out two raids in one day on premises in Sedgley Road, Woodsetton, and High Street, Tipton.

Mr Quirke said the gang members headed straight for cigarette displays and tills.

He said: “Very often these places were staffed by women because, in their view, they made much easier targets for criminals.”

The crooks were caught after a shopkeeper in Bilston put up a fight and Reilly left his mobile phone behind in the melee.

A Vauxhall Astra dumped by the gang contained a balaclava bearing Reilly’s DNA while Scanlon was linked to the raids by a stolen Audi A3 used in a number of the robberies.

Oliver Woolhouse, representing Scanlon, said he was not a “loose cannon” and was only involved in a small number of the raids.

Ronald Jaffa, representing Reilly, said he could not be described as a “ringleader” although it was accepted he was willing to be involved.