Man caught 12 years after shop robbery

JUSTICE has finally caught up with a Bulwell man — 12 years after he was involved in the robbery of a shop.

But Gareth Rock, of Merchant Street, has avoided being sent straight to prison because of the amount of time it has taken to catch him.

Derby Crown Court heard that Rock was involved in a raid at Motorworld on Market Place, Long Eaton, Derbyshire in 1999.

He was only charged after changes to how the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire police forces share fingerprint information.

A cold-case inquiry was launched, and evidence of fingerprints found on till receipts at the Motorworld premises at the time of the robbery was checked.

A hit on the national police database earlier this year matched them with those of the 30-year-old Bulwell man.

Rock, who was 18 at the time of the offence, admitted robbery and was told that had he been prosecuted originally, he would have been jailed for two years.

Instead he was given a one-year prison-term, suspended for two years.

The Judge, Recorder David Mason QC, said: “Twelve years have elapsed. It is not your fault it has taken 12 years to pursue this, It is the system.”

The court heard that Rock and another man entered the store at 5 pm on October 16 1999. The accomplice was questioned but never charged.

The manager was Michael Hibbard, who was grabbed by the other raider and, with a knife at his neck, he was ordered to open the till. Inside were worthless receipts that were picked up by Rock, who left his fingerprints behind.

The other attacker took Mr Hibbard upstairs and made him open a safe as Rock remained downstairs. Rock and his fellow burglar escaped with £700.

Siward James-Moore (prosecuting) explained that Rock wasn’t found because, at the time, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire police had different fingerprint-records. The national database wasn’t established until 2000.

It was because of “stretched resources” that the case wasn’t revisited until March this year.

Rock was now a building trades student and had become “self-driven” since the original offence, Alwyn Jones (defending) told the court.

Mr Jones added that Rock took no part in the “direct violence”.