Masked men who held up Colsterworth post office with replica gun jailed

Jake Webster and Luke French
Jake Webster and Luke French
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Two masked men who carried out a terrifying gunpoint hold-up at Colsterworth post office, were today jailed at Lincoln Crown Court following a lengthy investigation by Lincolnshire Police.

Lincoln Crown Court heard that on Wednesday, August 29, 2012, Luke French and Jake Webster visited Colsterworth post office and appeared to be checking whether the premises had CCTV. Members of staff found their behaviour to be suspicious and felt that they were “casing” the premises.

On Thursday, August 30, Webster and French purchased a vehicle - a Fiat Stilo - from Peterborough to use in the robbery and brought it to Colsterworth.

Then at 10am on Friday, August 31, the pair parked their getaway vehicle on Old Post Lane, Colsterworth and drove to the post office in the Fiat Stilo.

Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, said both men wore balaclavas as they entered the post office. One of the robbers pointed an imitation Glock pistol gun at the two members of staff and a customer who was present, while the other jumped on the counter.

However French and Webster were foiled when the postmistress pressed the panic alarm button.

The two raiders fled empty handed in the Fiat Stilo, despite the brave attempts of a lorry driver to block them in. They then returned to Old Post Lane where they set fire to the Fiat Stilo and escaped in a white vehicle. The gun used in the raid was found discarded nearby.

Tests carried out on the weapon revealed the presence of DNA from both French and Webster and both were later arrested.

French, 25, of Main Road, Quadring, and Webster, 21, of George Street, Grantham, both admitted conspiracy to commit robbery as a result of the incident on the morning of August 31, 2012. They were each jailed for five years and four months.

Both French and Webster declined to answer questions when they were interviewed and at one point French accused police officers of “stitching him up”.

Mr Aspden said the raid had a “devastating effect” on the staff and the one customer who was inside the premises at the time.

Matthew Morgan, representing French, said his client had suffered the break down of a relationship and began taking drugs.

Mr Morgan said French knew he faced a substantial jail term and it would be heart-breaking for his two children.

He said that French has shown remorse and he told the court: “His inevitable incarceration will be crushing for him.”

Chris Milligan, for Webster, said his client was only 18 at the time of the offence and blamed drink and drugs for his involvement.

Recorder Ciaran Rankin, passing sentence, told the pair “This was an organised and carefully planned robbery. The victims were terrified. They have to live with that. It has had a profound and detrimental effect.”

The investigating officer in the case, Detective Constable James Thompson, said: “This was a planned offence which has profoundly affected the lives of the people who were in the post office going about their normal daily business. It has taken a long time to get to this point and I hope that this sentence will help to providing a sense of closure. I would like to thank them for their patience and assistance during this investigation. I would also like to thank all the witnesses who have assisted in the investigation.

“It is rare for something like this to happen in a rural village of Lincolnshire but the length of the sentence reflects the severity of their offence and the terror they put the people in the post office through.”