Barmaid and boyfriend who faked armed robbery avoid prison

Written by Peter Davison on .

The Pelican at FroxfieldThe Pelican at FroxfieldA barmaid and her boyfriend who had just 85p in their bank account carried out a bogus armed robbery at the pub where she worked.

Stephanie Brown phoned the police to say two East European men had held her at knifepoint before clearing out the safe and locking her in a cupboard.

But in reality her partner Christopher Sigsworth had plundered the takings from The Pelican, at Froxfield, and driven them away.

And the following day the couple were at Tesco loading bags of coins into a change machine and using the money to load up on groceries and other items.

Michael Butt, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court Brown, 23, was working on her own during the day on Friday February 6 last year when Sigsworth, 29, arrived.

There were only two other customers in the bar, but after they left the police received a 999 call reporting a robbery.

Brown told how two Eastern Europeans had forced her at knifepoint to open the safe then locked her in the cupboard where it was located.

Police rushed to the scene and armed response unit was also mobilised to search for the raiders.

But the manageress, who lived in a flat behind the pub, she said she saw Sigsworth's car driving off at a time when the robbery was meant to be taking place.

And police were alerted that Brown's story may not be correct when they found the couple had gone to the supermarket changing £90 of loose coins in a machine.

They also spent hundreds in Halfords and Matalan and when police went to where they were staying in Little Bedwyn they uncovered more than £1,000 in notes.

In Sigsworth's car police also found a number of empty coin bags and when they arrested him he said “It was all my idea, not Steph’s.”

It was also discovered that he had spent some of the money on cocaine, after the drug was found on him, though he insists he hasn’t used it since.

Mr Butt said that in total they had spent about £1,000 of the stolen £2,685 in the day before they were caught.

Sigsworth pleaded guilty to theft and Brown to assisting in an offence after a charge of conspiracy to steal was dropped.

Charles Cochand, for Brown, said that she had not been in trouble with the police before and was a different person now to the one back then.

He said she was a few months pregnant at the time and now has the couple's child who she looks after while doing some part time work in Salford, where they now live.

As a result of the incident he said the pub had withheld the wages she was due which amounted to about £1,000.

Simon Goodman, for Sigsworth, said his client had left the army a bit before the offence and immediately regretted the decision.

He failed to get back in and in the time since his arrest he said he had got work for a steel transporting business in the north west.

Passing sentence Judge Tim Mousley QC said “I am prepared to accept you were in financial difficulties at the time but that is only a partial explanation for what you did and it certainly doesn’t begin to constitute an excuse for what you did.

“Thefts of this sort of sum from employers are often treated as very serious by the courts. This was a significant act of dishonesty on your part.

“It was probably you Mr Sigsworth who came up with the idea of telling a fictitious tale to the police. This was planned to some extent.

“It seems to me you were awaiting the opportunity to steal the money, and that arose on February 6 last year.”

He imposed and eight month jail term suspended for two years on Sigsworth with 250 hours of unpaid work and 15 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

Brown was put on a one year community order with 180 hours of unpaid work.