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Anger over digger robber's appeal win.


AN MP has slammed the decision to reduce the sentence of a robber who used a digger to smash through a bank's wall.

And Khalid Mahmood has called for a review following the quashing of Luke Daly's 'indefinite' jail sentence.

Daly, 28, stole the digger from Handsworth Cemetery, Birmingham, after accomplices kidnapped three gravediggers at gunpoint.

He crashed the machine into the UAE Exchange Bank, Handsworth. His gang stole PS21,000 in the audacious raid.

Daly, from Erdington, Birmingham, was handed an indefinite jail term at Birmingham Crown Court in April last year, after he admitted robbery.

But that sentence has now been quashed and replaced with 11 years jail. Court of Appeal judges ruled the open-ended sentence was 'not justified'. Under the indefinite term, Daly would need to convince a parole board he no longer posed a risk to society.

But now he will qualify for automatic release after serving half his new sentence.

Mr Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr, which includes Handsworth, has demanded a review of the Court of Appeal's decision.

"I don't know why this step has been taken by the Court of Appeal," he told the Sunday Mercury. "I'm really disappointed, I think the Judiciary seems to be out of touch with the public over these very violent crimes.

High "Somebody could have been behind that wall and been killed. That's why the initial sentence was so high. It seems the Judiciary has forgotten that. I find it very disturbing that they have reduced the sentence.

This is what lowers the confi-dence of the majority of people in my constituency in the legal system.

I am going to write to the Justice Secretary and ask him to look at this and see if it can be reviewed."

The gang's ringleader, Norman Washington Grant, lost appeals against his convictions for robbery, kidnap and possessing a firearm - and his indefinite jail term.

The court heard the raiders kidnapped the terrified cemetery workers on January 12, 2010.

They were tied up and bundled into a stolen van before being driven to the bank, where the raid took place.

Daly rammed the JCB into the wall, allowing masked raiders armed with sawn-off shotguns to target staff and demand PS21,000.

He admitted robbery, but denied any part in the kidnapping and was acquitted at trial of kidnap and firearms charges.

Grant was caught after his DNA was found on a balaclava spotted in the van by a gravedigger when the vehicle was returned to the cemetery.

Three other people were cleared and other alleged accomplices have never been traced. Grant, 46, from Perry Barr, Birmingham, challenged his convictions, claiming the jury must have been 'under pressure' at his trial because they hesitated over giving their verdicts.

But, dismissing his appeal, Lord Justice McCombe said the trial judge handled the jury issues appropriately.

The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Foskett and Mr Justice Eder, also dismissed Grant's appeal against his indefinite jail term, saying he was dangerous.

However, the judges allowed Daly's appeal against his sentence, saying imprisonment for public protection was not called for.

Lord Justice McCombe added: "The starting point was quite appropriate for a robbery in which he must have been aware of the significant risk to life and limb of what he did.

"However, an indeterminate sentence was not, in fact, justified."


APPEAL: Luke Daly, and, left the bank wall he smashed through, with a digger, right
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Nov 25, 2012
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