A former Dunstable pub manager abused his position to stage two robberies at the premises last year with the help of an accomplice, a court heard.
Paul Shah, 37, was the ex-deputy manager of the Market Cross pub on Luton Road, Dunstable, which he targeted with his accomplice Adam Urbanowicz, 21, to arrange two robberies in October last year.
But they were caught after detectives uncovered phone contact between the two and CCTV captured Shah intentionally leaving open a door which was used by robbers moments later.
They were both jailed at Luton Crown Court on Friday, December 13. Shah, of Winchester Road, Sandy, was sentenced to 10 years while Urbanowicz, formerly of Vale Court, High Street North, Dunstable, was jailed for nine years and four months
Shah had been found guilty of conspiracy to rob and perverting the course of justice while Urbanowicz convicted of conspiracy to rob as well as possession of an imitation firearm following a trial in July.
On October 1 last year, Urbanowicz had approached a man who worked at the pub and stabbed him in the leg. Thankfully the victim was able to seek help and members of the public called the emergency services.
Later on that day, Shah sent text messages to the victim saying he was sorry to hear about what had happened. However the victim became suspicious as Shah knew a number of details about the incident that hadn’t been widely reported.
Although the Beds Police had released details to local media about a stabbing in the area, the report did not mention a robbery.
An investigation later found that Shah – who had recently left his job as deputy manager of the pub - and Urbanowicz had been in touch three minutes before the stabbing, and again 15 minutes afterwards. Analysts were also able to place Urbanowicz at the location at the time of the offence using cell site data, despite him claiming he was not in Dunstable at the time.
Then, three days later, at around 11pm on October 4, Shah unexpectedly visited the pub at closing time, and offered to stay with the duty manager as all other staff had left.
Shah took the manager for a cigarette and, despite telling police he had closed the door, CCTV showed that he had left it slightly open when he and the manager went back inside.
Two minutes later, two masked men burst into the location armed with a handgun and demanded money. They made off with £4,000.
Urbanowicz’s fingerprints were found on a roll of tape that was thrown at Shah during the incident, placing him at the scene. Further phone records showed Urbanowicz had been in touch with Shah an hour before the incident.
Shah claimed to be a victim, giving a false statement to police, but was later arrested along with Urbanowicz after police were able to link the two using phone data and forensics.
Analysis showed that communication between Shah and Urbanowicz increased around the times and dates of the two offences. Urbanowicz’s phone also showed frequent phone calls to a taxi company, booking taxis to take him to Shah’s address.
The investigation also revealed that Shah was in debt.
Detective Sergeant Zac Kozlowski, who led the investigation, said: “Both victims were left shaken and distressed because of Shah and Urbanowicz, and the impact of their actions cannot be underestimated.
"The two men spared no thought for the two innocent people they dragged into their wicked plot, and they focussed solely on monetary gain without a thought about who else might be affected.
“I don’t think either expected to be caught or serve jail time, but both deserve the sentences they have been given. I just hope that their victims now feel reassured and can begin to move on from their ordeals, and would like to thank them for being so co-operative throughout our investigation.”