Getaway driver Clare Hall has been jailed for five years after her knife-wielding husband and an associate held up a woman in a ‘terrifying’ robbery at a bookies.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard the Bognor Regis woman lay in wait in her BMW as the balaclava-wearing men burst into Betfred in Eastney Road, Milton.
They threatened a single mother with a meat cleaver and a kitchen knife, before stealing £3,375.
Parked in nearby Glasgow Road, Hall, 27, of Shearwater Drive, was ready to make an escape to Bognor after the robbery.
But the pair in the shop, who threatened to kill the betting shop worker if she called police, came unstuck when they fled just as a police car passed the bookies.
Prosecutor Martyn Booth said they ran off, with the unknown associate, known as Coatsey, leaping into the car leaving Hall to drive around looking for her husband Matthew Hall.
A witness said Hall ‘put the petal to the metal,’ when the man jumped in.
A quick-thinking resident had already thought Mrs Hall was suspicious and reported details of the car to police – who quickly stopped the BMW in Devonshire Avenue.
A knife block, balaclava and gloves were found in her boot. At a trial she denied knowing about the robbery.
She said she thought the men were picking up drugs.
A jury who heard evidence from her husband, who was jailed for seven years and eight months, convicted her of robbery over the 9.30pm incident on June 6, 2016.
The incident, which lasted about 90 seconds, was a ‘thoroughly terrifying ordeal for anyone let alone a lone female going about her job,’ Mr Booth told the court.
He said Hall was the ‘getaway driver’ and if the men had crossed the road and run through Bransbury Park into the car then they would have made it to Bognor.
But he said: “We know that things didn’t go terribly smoothly.”
In a statement the robbery victim said she had lost a new job in a restaurant due to the effects of the robbery, could no longer answer her own front door and could now hardly sleep at night as she suffered flashbacks.
The woman, now a shop worker, added: “I don’t trust anyone now even at the supermarket, I find it impossible to trust a customer.. but that’s the effect the robbery has had on me.”
Robert Bryan, defending Hall, said she did not know what the men had planned to do.
Jailing Hall for five years, judge David Melville QC said she knew the men would use violence and put the worker in fear, adding: “Knowing this you drove the getaway car.”
Branding her husband, who has 50 convictions for 160 offences, a ‘seasoned criminal’ the judge said: “You were in love with him and couldn’t separate yourself from this criminal man.”