‘Amateurish’ robbers jailed for more than ten years after terrifying raid at Whitwell supermarket

The scene of the crime.
The scene of the crime.

Two masked robbers have today been jailed for a combined total of more than ten years after carrying out a terrifying raid at their village supermarket in Whitwell.

Prolific offenders Lee David Barratt, 35, of Watson Road, Worksop, and Andrew Pakulski, 38, of King Street, Hodthorpe, escaped with just £215 after storming the Co-op store on Welbeck street armed with pellet guns just after 7am on Wednesday, January 25.

The ‘incompetent’ pair - who have committed more than 100 offences between them - were caught after a customer in the store at the time recognised Barratt - also known as ‘Budgie’.

The duo caused one staff member to ‘black out’ in fear by shouting: “If you want to see your kids again give us the money.”

Sentencing the men, who had pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of an imitation firearm at a previous hearing, Judge Robert Egbuna, said: “On that day your intention was to create a real sense of threatening fear.

“Your intention was to make customers in that store believe that you had a real gun.

“At one point you pointed the gun at a member of staff and used words to the effect of ‘if you want to see your kids again give us the money’.

“The member of staff dropped to the floor and blacked out.

“He thought for two minutes that he was going to be killed.”

CCTV footage played during the hearing at Derby Crown Court showed the men walking into the shop carrying pellet guns with their faces covered.

Prosecuting, Sarah Slater, said: “There was four members of staff in the store at the time. Three became involved in the incident while the other was in the back. Two customers were in the store as well.”

The video showed Pakulski pointing the gun at a staff member on the till and Barratt going behind the till to get the cash.

One pellet gun shot was fired at the beginning of the incident and another towards the end. No one came to any physical harm.

“In total they only obtained £215,” Ms Slater added.

Witness statements from staff members and customers were read out during court in which they described the incident as ‘absolutely horrendous’ and ‘amateurish’ and how some of them still suffered nightmares and were apprehensive to go back to work.

A customer who was in the store at the time recognised Barratt - also known as ‘Budgie’ - and told police he believed Pakulski to live at a nearby address.

Both men were arrested the next day after police searched the home of Pakulski and found air weapons similar to those used in the robbery and seized items of clothing. Other clothes and air weapons were also found dumped at a nearby train station and more items of clothing were found near to the Co-op.

In police interview, both men initially said ‘no comment’ before later giving admissions.

In mitigation, Christopher Aspinall, representing both men, said: “Neither of them sort to fight this.

“Both of them entered guilty pleas which they deserve full credit for.

“In terms of planning it is incompetent. It is their local shop.

“They are well known in the area with one customer recognising Barratt as ‘Budgie’.”

The court heard that Pakulski had 64 previous offences and 20 convictions going back to 1993 and Barratt had 85 previous offences including a conviction in 2003 for robbery for which he was sentenced to more than four years. Barratt was also on licence at the time of the Whitwell robbery.

On Pakulski, Mr Aspinall said: “His last offence was in 2013. It is a foray into offending which is a step back for him.”

On Barratt, Mr Aspinall said: “He says that he is this system now.

“He does not want to but prison is not something he finds difficult. It is a sad indictment.”

Barratt was sentenced to five years and eight months for the robbery and 12 months possession of the firearm, to run concurrent.

Pakulski was sentenced to five years and four months for the robbery and 12 months for possession of the firearm, to run concurrent.

Before being taken to custody, Pakulksi added: “Thank you, and we are sorry.”