A gang of armed robbers, who targeted lone drivers to steal high-performance cars, have been jailed for a total of more than 60 years following a joint investigation between police in Staffordshire, West Midlands and Warwickshire.
The gang were responsible for a string of violent robberies, targeting lone, often vulnerable women drivers, to steal high-end cars in order to sell them on. The total value of the vehicles targeted by the group reached £750,000 – although not all of those were stolen. The majority of crimes in Staffordshire took place in and around Tamworth in broad daylight.
Ringleader Paul Doyle, aged 41, along with 23-year-old Luke Mander and 22-year-old Joshua Barrett struck at least 46 times in just 11 weeks between October and December 2018.
On one occasion they threatened and dragged a pregnant woman out of her vehicle, a Golf GTD when she returned to her car after shopping at Ventura Retail Park in Tamworth. In an audacious twist, the car was then re-stole by the gang as it was being recovered, kidnapping the recovery truck driver, who had stopped at a McDonalds in Bassetts Pole.
The court heard that during their three month crime spree, the serial robbers had roamed across three force areas in search of victims, including across West Midlands, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. In total they were charged with 46 offences.
During an 11 week period, between October and December in 2018, they terrorised lone motorists, the majority being women, threatening them with violence and weapons and forcing them out of their cars, often in broad daylight, before stealing them.
The group, wearing balaclavas and carrying knives, iron bars and imitation firearms carried out offences on an almost daily basis, some days committing multiple offences.
The robbers also stole vehicles from driveways, before driving them on false number plates and disposing of them for financial gain. They even travelled to Weston Super Mare to target a motorbike meeting and stole bikes and campervans.
In total, it’s estimated the gang stole high-end cars worth in excess of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The crucial breakthrough came on 27 November 2018 during the hijack of the driver of the vehicle recovery truck at Bassetts Pole. A member of the public who saw what happened, recovered a phone dropped by Mander during the scuffle.
Mander was arrested in a joint operation between Staffordshire and West Midlands Police in the early hours of 20 December at his home address and Doyle detained the following day.
Barrett was detained at an address linked to him in Greenhill Way, Shirley, on 22 November and, when officers searched the home, they uncovered keys to a Mercedes AMG C63S taken by robbers armed with a knife and firearm from Bell Lane, Tile Cross, on 8 November.
Detectives found more damning ‘selfies’ showing the men pictured alongside stolen cars and secured further DNA and mobile phone evidence linking them to crime scenes across the West Midlands, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Mercia and Avon and Somerset.
Doyle, of no fixed address, was sentenced to 24 years in jail. Mander, from Kingsbury Road, Birmingham, and Barratt from Grenhill Way in Birmingham were handed sentences of 16.5 years and 18 years respectively.
Mander’s half-brother, 18-year-old Kier Carter from Kingsbury Road in Birmingham, was jailed for 3 years after admitting being involved at an earlier hearing.
In total the sentences were:
Paul Doyle was jailed for 24 years after being convicted of conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to commit theft, robbery, possession of an imitation firearm, conspiracy to possess an imitation firearm and kidnapping.
Luke Mander was jailed for 16.5 years after being convicted of conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to commit theft, robbery, possession of an imitation firearm, conspiracy to possess an imitation firearm, kidnapping and possession with intent to supply Class B drugs.
Joshua Barrett was jailed for 18 years after being convicted of conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to commit theft, robbery, conspiracy to possess an imitation firearm and possession of an imitation firearm.
Kier Carter will spend 3 years in jail having been convicted of conspiracy to steal, burglary, handling stolen goods, taking a vehicle without consent and possession of class B drugs.
Detective Superintendent Jason O’Toole, from Staffordshire Police’s Major and Organised Crime Unit, said: “The gang, led by ringleader Doyle, carried out a series of violent robberies across the region. They targeted vulnerable drivers and were motivated by money and greed-they were brazen thieves, not afraid to commit robberies in broad daylight.
“The gang terrified their victims and had no thought to the impact they have had on people’s lives. They even targeted a man tending to his wife’s grave in Streetly.
“They have rightly been handed long prison sentences for what was a shocking series of robberies.”
Neighbourhood Policing Commander for Tamworth, Ash Farrington said: “These were very serious and frightening offences. I personally spoke to a number of the victims and heard first-hand how distressing these offences were.
“We triggered one of the biggest prevent and protect operations of recent times to do all we could to stop these crimes. I am grateful for the courage of these victims in supporting the police in seeking justice.”