Thursday 3 November 2011

A man who fled to Spain after being charged in connection with a terrifying robbery has been jailed for 10 years


A man who fled to Spain after being charged in connection with a terrifying robbery has been jailed for 10 years. Stephen Devalda provided a motorbike used by two robbers to get to and from the scene of a cash-in-transit raid. The robbers, who were carrying an imitation firearm and a machete, attacked a security guard collecting money from an Asda supermarket. Devalda, of Stanton Avenue, Salford, was arrested and charged in 2007 but he went on to skip bail and fled to Spain. A joint operation between the Serious and Organised Crime Agency and Spanish police was launched – and they tracked him down in Malaga in March. CCTV of the robbery Devalda, 28, who pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to rob and a bail offence, has now been handed a sentence of 10 years and three months behind bars. Detective Inspector Simon Cheyte said: “This was a pre-planned and violent attack which has left the security guard so traumatised and distressed that he has not been able to return to his normal work duties.  “This investigation was carried out by a small team over a protracted period of time. They showed dedication and determination to bring this offender to justice and their resolve to succeed has lead to the conviction of a member of an organised and dangerous criminal gang from the Salford area of Manchester. “Thankfully these types of offences are extremely rare but we take them very seriously and are committed to carrying out full and thorough investigations to identify those responsible. “This should demonstrate the lengths Lancashire Constabulary will go to in order to arrest people and bring them justice. I am pleased with the sentence and hope it sends a clear message that this type of offence will not be tolerated.” The court heard how the armed robbery was carried out at Asda, in Colne, in May 2005. Two men in crash helmets arrived on a motorbike. The security guard was attacked with a machete after being knocked to the ground. The victim had a handgun pushed into his neck and a demand was made for money. He was then hit over the helmet with such force that he fell to the floor. One of the robbers shouted 'kill him' to his accomplice. He was ordered to tell a colleague to pass money out. The terrified guard curled up in a ball as the machete was used to rain blows to his head and upper arms. The court heard how the ordeal left him with both physical and psychological injuries. He had three lacerations to the upper arms and £25,000 in cash was stolen. The robbers made off on the motorbike and later switched to a getaway vehicle. Devalda pleaded guilty on the basis that he had been recruited by someone else. His role had been limited to providing the motorbike. A second man, Andrew Moran, 25, from Salford, was also charged with conspiracy to rob in connection with the raid. He appeared at Burnley Crown Court in March 2009 after a six week trial and was remanded into custody by the judge pending the result of the jury’s deliberations. Moran then assaulted a Group 4 security member, vaulted over the dock and ran from the court building. The jury later returned a guilty verdict and he was convicted in his absence of conspiracy to rob, for which he is to be yet sentenced. Moran is still missing and this week was named one of Britain’s most wanted criminals as part of a national Crimestoppers appeal. Det Insp Cheyte said: “We are determined to get Moran back before the courts to serve the time for his crime and I would urge anyone with any information as to his whereabouts to come forward and contact the police.” Moran is described as being around 5ft 8in, of stocky build with cropped fair hair. He has a Manchester accent