Bungling gang of axe-wielding robbers locked up for 18 and a half years after stealing £30 from a Wigan store

A bungling gang of robbers who threatened Wigan shop staff with an axe and hammer have been jailed for a total of 18 and a half years - after stealing little more than £30 between them.

Thursday, 15th August 2019, 2:35 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th August 2019, 3:35 pm
Damien Rigby

Damien Rigby, of Cornwall Drive in Hindley, has been imprisoned for seven and a half years this week for his part in a frightening hold-up in which Tesco assistants were threatened with a hammer and one had an axe held to her throat.

The 33-year-old thug initially claimed to have no part in the robbery, which took place at the Gidlow Lane Tesco store in May 2018, but quickly changed his plea when the trial started this week at Bolton Crown Court.

One of his victims who was left “traumatised” by the event, said she is relieved that her tormentor is now behind bars along with his co-accused.

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Daniel Lewis

His two accomplices, Daniel Lewis, 32, of Wigan Lane and Stephen Warbuton, 46, of Mesnes Avenue, were caught and imprisoned after pleading guilty this time last year but Rigby was already serving time in the South and his charges did not come until earlier this year.

Following a brief investigation; officers found the abandoned Clio they discovered the cash, cigarettes, and weapons that had been used in the robbery, alongside a receipt for the tools and three makeshift balaclavas, one which had been made out of trouser leg.

They also found DNA evidence which linked the perpetrators to the clothing left inside.

The court heard how the three entered the shop brandishing an axe and a claw hammer, holding the axe to one of the staff member’s throats as they demanded money from the tills.

Stephen Warburton

After both pleading guilty, Warbuton was sentenced to six and a half years for possession of a bladed article, assault and robbery, while Lewis was sentenced to four and a half years for robbery.

Rigby, however, continued to deny his involvement despite a wealth of evidence against him.

He pleaded guilty this week and was sentenced by Judge Graeme Smith.

Speaking to the Wigan Post after his sentencing, his victim said that the staff members on that night have been “affected mentally” and that knowing all three are behind bars will help them to move on with their lives.

“It’s a relief being able to put a face to the person who did this,” she said. “It’s also a relief to know that all three of them are now behind bars and off the streets.

“My son was the victim of a robbery too: two people held an axe to his throat, it was like lightning striking twice.

“I’m so glad that they are being made an example of.”

The shop worker described the terror she felt as a man walked towards her with a claw hammer as his accomplice threatened her colleague.

“I have had so many sleepless nights since then,” she said. “I just threw myself into work because that’s what I’m like but I wasn’t sleeping at all.

“Tesco sent us all for counselling and I had hypnotherapy to try to get the bottom of what was happening. I was dreaming that my legs wouldn’t work.

“When it happened it was all in slow motion. I just turned, grabbed a customer and pushed him back out through the door.

“I still remember one of them coming at me with a claw hammer and my colleague just screaming and screaming.

“It was completely traumatising for her, for all of us.”

Rigby was sentenced for the Gidlow Lane robbery as well as a robbery in Guildford and a charge of criminal damage.

Det Sgt Nigel Rigby of GMP Wigan Borough, said: “These men are a danger to other people.

“The harm that it has caused to the other people who got in their way was just completely unnecessary.

“It has had a massive impact on the staff working there. There was a young girl who was on that night who, since the incident, has been unable to work the same shift.

“I think the sentences have been spot on and we are pleased with the outcome.”