A 27-YEAR-OLD man has denied being the leader of a gang alleged to have carried out a series of armed robberies - including one at a Swadlincote Tesco store.
Karl White, who had lived in Ashby at the time of the robberies, also denied, at Warwick Crown Court, that he had used his alleged cut from a dramatic bank raid to buy a £3,000 watch.
White, of Marie Close, Atherstone, James Kennea, 26, of Chilvers Grove, Kingshurst, Solihull, and Leon Dyer, 25, of Barnesville Close, Small Heath, Birmingham, have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to rob staff at HSBC, in Atherstone.
In addition White, Kennea and Leigh Barry, 27, of Orchard Road, Erdington, Birmingham, deny conspiring to rob G4S ‘cash in transit’ guards - of which Dyer has been cleared on the directions of the judge.
White, Kennea and Barry also deny possessing an imitation firearm with intent to carry out a robbery at the Tesco Express store in Hearthcote Road, and White, Kennea and Dyer deny a similar charge in relation to the HSBC raid.
Giving evidence, White said at the time of the robberies in June and July he was living with his girlfriend Melanie in Station Road, Ashby.
White said that in the morning he had picked Kennea up to give him a lift as Kennea wanted to get presents for his children’s birthdays.
He said they then went to see Barry before he drove to Atherstone to see his sister and then drove to Nuneaton to get a charger for Kennea’s phone.
Afterwards he went to a girl’s house in Nuneaton as he regularly drove her to jobs as she worked as an escort.
He then left with his girlfriend and Kennea at about 3pm Asked by Mr Hodgkinson if he had been involved in the robbery at the HSBC at 12.45 that day, or in the attempted robbery at the Tesco Express store on June 27, he replied to both questions: "No, definitely not."
Prosecutor Simon Phillips suggested that White paid for a £3,000 watch out of the proceeds of the HSBC raid, putting to him: "That was about half the proceeds; that shows you were the leader of this gang." White denied this.
He said he had been looking at watches for months and had been given the money for it by his father.
John White, his father, had a bank statement showing he had drawn £2,750 in cash from his account on January 12, and told the jury: "That was the money for the watch, and other money we had saved was put to it for Karl to buy the watch." The trial continues.