A “SUSCEPTIBLE” getaway driver who was recruited by two “career criminals” to take part in an armed raid on a bank walked free from court after a judge praised him for helping to bring his accomplices to justice.
Jason Heppenstall (28) was handed a suspended two year jail term for robbery at Sheffield Crown Court this morning (Tuesday) after judge Julian Goose QC said “it was appropriate to suspend the sentence”.
Heppenstall, of Langdon Walk, Kimberworth Park, confessed to police in March 2016 about his involvement in the armed robbery two months earlier on the Yorkshire Bank in Parkgate because he felt guilty about the harm inflicted upon the victims.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Heppenstall named his girlfriend’s dad, Paul Smith (55), of The Coppice, Kimberworth, and Michael Lydon (53), of Fairview Avenue, Cleethorpes, as the balaclava-wearing armed robbers who stole £126,660 in the raid on January 29 last year.
Smith and Lydon, armed with crowbars and a fake handgun, rounded staff up as they opened up the Broad Street bank and emptied the cash machine and safe.
Driver Heppenstall, who was waiting outside, got cold feet and drove back to his home while the pair made their bungled escape which saw them threatening police officers and running over a woman as they stole her van.
Heppenstall returned to the area after calls from the armed robbers and picked them up in his own car at Wilson’s Carpets car park in Parkgate — which led to police identifying him.
After Hepenstall’s confession to police Smith admitted the offences, but Lydon denied seven offences and went on trial at Sheffield Crown Court where he was convicted last Friday and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 20 years.
Smith was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 13 years for two charges of robbery, two of possession of an imitation firearm and one each of making use of an imitation firearm with intent, attempted robbery and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
But Heppenstall was handed a two-year jail term, suspended for two years, after Judge Goose said his “evidence against Smith and Lydon gave substantial assistance to the prosecution which led to the conviction of Lydon and the plea of guilt by Smith.”
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