Getaway driver jailed over axe raid at Leeds bingo hall

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Staff and customers at a Leeds bingo hall were threatened by axe and machete-wielding robbers during a £5,000 raid.

Leeds Crown Court heard masked men burst into Mecca Bingo, on Balm Road, Hunslet, but were chased away by brave customers.

Getaway driver Martin Sharp was jailed for five years after the court heard how he used his sister’s car to carry out the robbery on August 20 this year.

Alisha Kaye, prosecuting, said Sharp drove the black Suzuki up to the entrance of the premises and two men wearing balaclavas and carrying weapons got out and ran inside.

The pair barged into the foyer and ordered an assistant to hand over cash from the till.

Customers were playing bingo at the time. Some came into the foyer area after hearing the disturbance.

One of the robbers ordered people to get down on the floor while the other forced open the till.

Miss Kaye said one of the customers went to challenge the men and threw a wooden menu board at one of the robbers. Another customer also joined in and chased the robbers outside.

Sharp drove off with his accomplices as one of the customers threw a bin at the vehicle. Police were able to trace the registration number of the vehicle to Sharp’s sister.

Officers arrested him in the area later that evening and he was in possession of the car key.

Sharp, of Middleton Road, Belle Isle, pleaded guilty to robbery and aggravated vehicle taking.

Sara Lyle, mitigating, said: “The defendant accepts that they were all in the vehicle.

“The defendant was the driver and knew that they were in possession of weapons and knew it was going to be a robbery.”

Miss Lyle said Sharp agreed to take part in the offence after he had lost his job and built up £2,000 worth of debt.

Judge James Spencer, QC, said: “You got yourself involved in this robbery, which was well planned, and you had your part to play.

“You are just as responsible for what happened.”

Paula Dillon, President of Leeds Chamber Commerce.

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