Sheffield axe robbers jailed for terror raid

Terror: The shop raided by Shane Murphy and Nathan Herbert.
Terror: The shop raided by Shane Murphy and Nathan Herbert.
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TWO masked raiders who carried out a meticulously planned and ruthlessly executed axe robbery at a Sheffield travel agency have been locked up for a total of 18 years.

Shane Murphy, aged 35, and Nathan Herbert, 37, who have 122 previous convictions between them, burst into the Co-op in Bradway last December, wielding an axe and demanding cash from two terrified female staff.

The thugs, dressed in disposable white forensic suits and balaclavas, frog-marched the assistant manager to the bureau de change shouting, ‘Get me the money’.

The petrified worker was forced to empty the safe - and the raiders fled with thousands of pounds in cash, travellers cheques and the shop’s CCTV system.

Adrian Strong, prosecuting at Sheffield Crown Court, said the men burst into the shop on Twentywell Lane at 5pm.

Murphy, who was carrying an axe with a two foot handle, swung it crashing onto the desk between the two terrified women workers.

Assistant manager Caroline Reeve was ‘bundled’ in the direction of the bureau de change at the back of the shop.

As Herbert emptied the safe Murphy swung the axe, embedding it in a door, before swiping it at a cash tray in Ms Reeve’s hands.

The pair, who were described by the judge as ‘experienced and determined criminals’, fled with 6,568 Euros, £1,101 sterling, travellers’ cheques, gift vouchers and travel vouchers.

They fled in a WV Polo stolen two days earlier in Fulwood and later went on a ‘drugs bender’.

The court heard the men were only caught because Herbert lost his wallet - containing some of the stolen Euros - in Meadowhall. When he went to claim it the police became involved.

Recorder Jonathan Sandiford said: “If he’d not dropped his wallet, he would have got away with it.”

Officers raided Herbert’s home in Sevenairs Road, Beighton, and recovered the CCTV system showing footage of the robbery, and clothes - fibres from which were found on the driver’s seat of the getaway car.

The judge heard both men were prolific criminals who had been in and out of prison all their lives.

Mr Strong said Murphy, of Mason Laithe Road, Manor, had 67 previous convictions while Herbert, who had 55, was branded a ‘predatory burglar’.

Recorder Sandiford told them: “The pair of you are experienced criminals who are determined to prey on your fellow citizens as long as the courts allow you to.”

Danny Simpson, defending Murphy, who was found guilty after a trial, said: “This is a case where at least two men addicted to drugs have committed a desperate offence to raise cash for their addictions.”

Benjamin Narain, defending Herbert, who pleaded guilty to robbery, said he had a long history of drug use but tried to get his life back on track after he was released from his last jail term.

However, the judge said the raid ‘bore all the hallmarks of a professional and well-planned crime’.

Jailing Murphy for 10 years and Herbert for eight, he said they had previously visited the shop to ‘case the joint’, wore disposable suits, and stole the CCTV to avoid detection.

“It was a serious, professional crime, meticulously planned and ruthlessly executed,” he added.