A Tesco worker pulled a sickie then drove a getaway car for masked robbers who ransacked his own store.
The shelf-stacker has been jailed over his part driving the car for his two accomplices in the violent robbery at the Tesco store in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire.
Steven Banks, 35, was been jailed for 12 years over the crime.
Banks had phoned in sick the day of the robbery, then carried out the inside job alongside two masked accomplices, reports StokeonTrentLive.
As he waited in a Ford Mondeo, the other men entered the Kidsgrove store and went straight to two members of staff filling the tills with cash.
One 60-year-old worker, who was standing near the mobile safe with some of the money, was struck to the back of her head.
Still dazed from the blow, she was subjected to a terrifying attack.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard how she was thrown against a wall and hit with such force to her chest she was knocked off her feet.
She later recalled: “The man was shouting at me to ‘shut up, stay down, hands up’. I thought he had a gun.”
The pair bundled £5,780 of cash from the safe into a bag and escaped. But a quick-thinking employee scribbled down the details of the getaway vehicle.
Prosecutor Hugh O’Brien Quinn said: “The car was later found abandoned nearby. The defendant’s fingerprints were recovered from the gear stick.”
It emerged the Mondeo had earlier been stolen and fitted with false plates.
Now 35-year-old Banks, formerly of Burslem , is starting a lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to robbery.
The events unfolded early on November 10, 2017 as two cars made their way in convoy from Birmingham to Kidsgrove.
One was the getaway vehicle and the other, a Mercedes, was used to transport them back after dumping the Mondeo.
The court was told Banks is the only person to have been charged in connection with the case.
One robbery suspect is still at large and another is ‘in custody for a similar offence’.
Mr O’Brien Quinn said two mobile phones were seized from Banks. The phone data placed him at the scene.
“The defendant was in financial difficulties,” he added. “He had sent a message to a girlfriend, suggesting he had considered robbing a petrol station.
“He then received a message on November 11 from another woman, asking him where all the money had come from the day before. He later told police it was in relation to wages from Tesco – but he was not paid on or around November 10.”
Banks would have known exactly what time the tills would be filled for the day.
Samina Rashid, mitigating, said the other men had approached him because of his Tesco links.
“He certainly had no idea what had gone on inside until later. He received a financial payment for his role,” she added.
Banks has since been living in Scotland so he can care for his poorly mother.
In a victim impact statement, the worker injured in the attack revealed she has never worked since and was forced to leave Tesco due to ill health.
She now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, panic attacks and flashbacks.
She said: “I used to be very active. All this has stopped because these men wanted easy money. I hope they are punished and made to feel as low and helpless as I feel now.”
Judge Paul Glenn said Banks had even driven the getaway car while disqualified from driving.
He told him: “Your involvement was a leading role. It couldn’t have happened without you and your knowledge.”