POLICE tracked down an armed robber after the security guard he attacked likened him to Cat from space comedy Red Dwarf.
Usman Ali (pictured left), from Small Heath in Birmingham, threatened the Loomis driver with a hammer outside a Wickes store last July and made off with a cash box containing around £14,000.
The following day staff at a branch of Ladbrokes just yards from Ali’s home reported a man ploughing hundreds of pounds into gaming machines, notes that the eagle-eyed employees spotted were stained with dye. Officers swooped and immediately recognised Ali as the man wanted for the July 26 robbery in Stratford Road, Hall Green.
Scientific analysis of the contaminated notes confirmed they’d come from the stolen cash box − and at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday (Jan 26) Ali was jailed for eight years after being found guilty of conspiracy to rob.
West Midlands Police Detective Constable Andrew Mitcham, said: “Ali was at the bookies with the sole purpose of getting rid of the dye-stained notes and taking his winnings receipt to the counter to get clean notes. It was effectively quick-fire money laundering.
“The victim gave us a distinctive description and said his attacker looked like ‘Cat’ from Red Dwarf − and in court prosecutors presented an image of the character to the jury to illustrate the comparison.
“The prosecutor clearly had a sense of humour as in his closing speech he said ‘Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, the robbery at Wickes has his (pointing at Ali’) name on it’ in a clear reference to the company’s advertising slogan!
“Ali has rightly been handed a long prison term: although he didn’t use the hammer in anger, he threatened violence against the security driver and left him fearing the threats would be carried out.
“We were able to present strong evidence to the court which highlighted his lies to police and led to the jury unanimously finding him guilty.”
When Ladbrokes staff emptied the gaming machine Ali was using they discovered £480 in dye-stained notes, whilst arresting officers found another £400 in tainted cash on the 26-year-old. Ali claimed he’d got the cash after selling off car parts but couldn’t name the buyer or provide a contact number.
At the time of the robbery Ali was on licence having been released from prison part-way through a conviction for supplying Class A drugs.
He was arrested as part of a Birmingham-wide crackdown on drug dealing by West Midlands Police. He must now serve the remainder of that sentence − which runs until September 2016 − before his eight year robbery term begins.