Two men involved in a terrifying armed robbery at a Fylde supermarket were on leave from prison at the time.
Lee Hookway was on a four-day home visit when he and an accomplice pounced on two security guards delivering £60,000 to cash machines at Sainsbury’s in St Annes.
Getaway driver Scott McCaffery was on leave from Kirkham Prison and on placement at a local YMCA.
Another masked raider, Anthony Joy, was on parole from a robbery sentence.
The judge jailing the knife-wielding gang for a total of 39 years at Preston Crown Court expressed her surprise that two of the men had been in open prisons at all – given their past criminal records.
Judge Heather Lloyd said “This was no spur-of-the-moment crime. It had been planned for some time.
“It should be astonishing that Lee Hookway and Scott McCaffery were ever planning this robbery while still serving sentences at Kirkham Open Prison”.
She said Hookway had hatched the idea while working on day release away in Manchester.
Hookway, 36, McCaffery, 32, and 29-year-old Joy of Parish View, Salford, all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and were each given 10 years’ prison, with five years’ extended licence to follow.
Hookway’s sister Michelle Hookway, 31, was jailed for four years and her partner, 27-year-old David Rainback, got five years.
Both had denied conspiracy to rob, but were convicted by a jury.None of the stolen money has been recovered following the raid at Sainsbury’s last September.
Two Loomis security guards were delivering cash when they were assailed by two men in balaclavas and dressed head to toe in black.
One of the robbers was armed with a 6in kitchen knife that was used as a threat.
Both guards ended up losing their jobs because an internal inquiry showed they had failed to follow security precautions at the store. The impact of the crime lasted for months on one of the men who needed counselling.
Paul Dockery, prosecuting, said Hookway and McCaffery were inmates in the same block at HMP Kirkham, though two cells apart.
When later questioned by police, Lee Hookway recalled the day of the robbery as it was his son’s first day at nursery, where he had dropped him off that morning.
The second getaway car, earlier stolen from Manchester like the first vehicle, had been abandoned in the car park of Ansdell Baptist Church.
Hookway was serving a six-year term for robbery, but had other similar convictions on his record that had involved machetes, axes and swords.
McCaffery and Joy also had robbery offences on their record.
Richard Littler, for Hookway, said he accepted full responsibility for his actions: “He was the one who planned this offence. This was not a crack team, committing a serious and professional robbery.”
Richard Simons, for McCaffery, said he felt regret and apologised for what he had done.
Tim Storrie, for Joy, accepted it must have been a terrifying experience for people at the store.
The other two defendants were said to maintain their denial of being involved in the offence.
Judge Lloyd said it had been a professionally-planned robbery, carried out by professional robbers.
She added: “Security guards must be protected by deterrent sentences.
“Any such robbery is terrifying for those who are the targets and who witness the crime.”