THIS is the moment an evidence-conscious violent armed robber’s plan to cover his tracks by carefully disposing of an incriminating cigarette butt spectacularly backfired.
Mark O’Brien was captured on camera crossing the street and flicking the end of his roll-up into a garden.
Moments later he walked into a convenience store and subjected the shop keeper to a terrifying gunpoint attack.
Detectives viewing footage of the area became suspicious of the robber’s apparent attempts to hide evidence which could link him to the scene.
Officers carried out a thorough search of the garden and were able to recover the cigarette which was found to contain his DNA.
O’Brien, 26, was jailed for four-years and eight months at Leeds Crown Court over the raid on Ganners convenience store, in Bramley, Leeds, on December 2 last year.
O’Brien, who has previous convictions for robbery and violent offences, was masked when he went into the store with an unknown accomplice and threatened the shop keeper at 7.30pm.
He pointed a fake handgun at the victim before hitting him over the head with it. O’Brien’s accomplice was armed with a knife and also made threats,
Around £500 in cash was taken from the till before O’Brien ripped a £1,000 gold chain from around the victim’s neck.
The pair then left but O’Brien, of Spring Valley Court, Bramley, Leeds, was traced thanks to the sharp detective work.
He pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.
O’Brien’s lawyer, Anthony Sugare, told Leeds Crown Court: “He doesn’t wish to waste anyone’s time. He accepts that, more than likely, a long custodial sentence will follow.”
Jailing O’Brien, judge Guy Kearl, QC, said: “You are an experienced criminal and you have an extensive record of convictions.
“This was a planned attack. It was persistent. Weapons were available and weapons were used to the extent of using part of the gun to cause injury.”
Detective Inspector Mark Swift, of Leeds District CID, said: “O’Brien left the crucial piece of evidence that linked him to the crime when he discarded a cigarette butt near to the scene.
“CCTV was recovered that showed the two masked suspects loitering outside the shop before the robbery. The one we now know to be O’Brien is seen crossing the street and flicking the cigarette butt into the garden of a nearby house, presumably so as not to leave it at the scene.
“This caught the attention of investigating officers who then recovered the cigarette butt from the garden for forensic analysis which found O’Brien’s DNA on it.
“This was an excellent piece of detective work that has seen a prolific offender taken off the streets after he put the victim through a frightening ordeal.
“We hope the victim and his family are able to take some comfort from seeing him brought to justice.
“The second suspect remains outstanding and we would welcome any information that could assist us in identifying him.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Constable Richard Coulton at Elland Road via 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.