Accused claims he was jogging when terrifying lorry hijack took place

A BIRMINGHAM man accused of taking part in the ambush of a cash truck at Hopwood services, carrying £435,000 has claimed he was jogging in a nearby park when the raid took place.

Leon Brown told a jury at Worcester Crown Court that he was stopped twice by police soon after truck driver Ian Dewsbury made his escape and raised the alarm.

The prosecution alleges that Brown was in a gang who grabbed Mr Dewsbury at the Hopwood Service Station on the M42. He was driven through the streets of Alvechurch before being forced to hand over the keys of the cash truck and reveal the code to the safe.

Brown, aged 37, of Wellersley Gardens, Hall Green, pleads not guilty to conspiracy to rob the truck which had been tailed from the Cash On The Move depot in Oxfordshire on its way to provide change at the V Festival in Stafford.

Three man have pleaded guilty but one has not been found. One of the admitted robbers, 38-year-old Leon Bell, was a life-long friend of Brown, said Gerard Quirke, prosecuting.

He read to the jury a list of Brown's previous convictions, three of which were robbery. His last sentence was six years in 1997 for conspiracy to rob when the victims were terrified by a gang.
Brown said he served four years of the sentence before deciding to turn his life around.

He decided to buy a caribbean takeway business What's Cooking with his mother. His last conviction had been with Bell, who had been in and out of prison ever since.

Brown, who told the jury that he had three children aged 11, 10 and 8, said he had run the takeway for five years with his mother doing most of the cooking.

On August 15 last year, the day of the robbery,  he had been jogging in Foxhollies Park and had spoken to two brothers, who were sitting on a park seat. He had offered them a lift in a friend's car to the row of shops near his business. He was stopped twice by police but all he had in his pocket was a £1 coin and a wrap of cannabis.

He was handcuffed and released and it was not until three months later that he was arrested and interviewed about the attempted robbery on the cash truck.

Items bearing his DNA were found in a charity box at the rear of his takeaway but he said he could have worn the clothing at any time athough the prosecution alleged it was similar to that spotted on a CCTV camera when some of the robbers were arrested.

The trial continues

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