Ammonia attack robbery accused chooses not to given evidence at trial

The Costcutter shop in Queen Street, Dawlish, Devon. Copyright Google Maps.
The Costcutter shop in Queen Street, Dawlish, Devon. Copyright Google Maps.

A Sunderland delivery driver who is on trial for allegedly taking part in an ammonia attack robbery has chosen not to give evidence in court.

Paul Rowntree remained in the dock at Exeter Crown Court, where his friend Rikki Ward has already admitted carrying out the attack in Dawlish.

A driver who took two men from Dawlish to Torquay after the robbery has told the jury that he had no idea they had just committed a crime.

Ross Morton said he had been called in mid afternoon and taken the men shopping.

Morton denied taking the men into the countryside around Ashcombe, where clothing allegedly worn during the robbery was found.

The prosecution say Ward and Rowntree robbed manager Neil Warner of £5,129.90 takings from the Costcutter store in Dawlish after ambushing him at around on January 30 this year.

Ward has admitted spraying ammonia into Mr Warner’s face but Rowntree denies he snatched the money.

The jury have been shown Ward’s balaclava, glove and hoodie and a distinctive Berghaus jacket carrying Rowntree’s DNA which were found near Ashcombe.

The prosecution say Rowntree’s jacket is the same as one worn by the second robber in CCTV footage from Dawlish town centre.

CCTV also showed Ward, Rowntree and Morton buying £300 worth of designer sportswear in JD Sports in Torquay and Ward paying for all the purchases from a wad of banknotes.

Ward, 28, of Chatham Road, Sunderland, has admitted robbery and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Rowntree, 37, of Oswald Street, Sunderland, but who was staying at Exeter Road, Dawlish, denies both charges.

Ross Morton, 29, originally from Sunderland, but now of Gatehouse Close, Dawlish, denies assisting an offender.

Morton told the jury he knew both men from Sunderland and had met them in Devon because they all worked delivering second hand vans which were bought in the North East and sold in the South West.

He said he picked up them up in Longlands, Dawlish, and drove to Torquay via Teignmouth, where he picked up his partner and her child.

He said: “Rikki Ward asked for a lift to take him and Paul to Torquay. He said he just wanted a lift. I did not think it was odd and arranged to pick them up.

“I did not go anywhere near Ashcombe and there was no conversation about any robbery. I only heard about that later, when they were arrested.”