Ipswich: Salesman claims he was an unwitting getaway driver for pair of knife robbers

IPSWICH: A door-to-door salesman claimed he unknowingly acted as a getaway driver for two teenagers after they allegedly robbed an Ipswich video shop.

James Tibbenham, 23, told a jury he had been out in his car with 18-year-old Howard Battiste and a 17-year-old youth on June 9 last year and had been asked by them to pull in along Woodbridge Road because “they had something to do”.

Mr Tibbenham said he heard the men whispering and as they got out of his car he noticed they had covered their faces with scarves and were wearing hoodies.

He claimed when the pair returned five minutes later he saw the 17-year-old pick up a silver knife that had been dropped on the ground and put it under his jacket.

Mr Tibbenham alleged that when they got into his car they told him “go, go, go” and as he drove off he claimed that Battiste held some money under his nose and said “smell that”.

He said he asked what had happened but Battiste laughed and allegedly said, “you don’t want to know how we make our money”.

Mr Tibbenham alleged that later the same day they had told him they had “done a shop robbery” and had described how the 17-year-old had held a knife to the face of a shop assistant and asked her for money while Battiste had smashed things in the shop.

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Mr Tibbenham said he became concerned that the youths had left the silver knife in his car and claimed he saw the 17-year-old hide it behind a bush in a lay-by on the A14.

Mr Tibbenham, of Felixstowe, admitted he had a number of previous convictions including one in 2006 for a street robbery, but denied being involved in the alleged incident at the Blockbuster video shop in Woodbridge Road, Ipswich with Battiste and the 17-year-old on June 9. Battiste, 18, of St Mary’s Close, Trimley St Martin, and the 17-year-old, who cannot be named because of his age, have denied robbery.

It has been alleged the pair escaped with �700 cash after holding a sword to the throat of Blockbuster worker Sarah Dighton, who was alone in the store at the time of the alleged raid.

The trial continues today.

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