Devon

Dawlish shopkeeper ammonia attackers jailed

Rikki Ward, Paul Rowntree and Ross Morton Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Rikki Ward, Paul Rowntree and Ross Morton were jailed at Exeter Crown Court

Three men who attacked a shopkeeper with undiluted ammonia, leaving him blind in one eye, have been jailed.

Neil Warner, 59, was taking more than £5,000 in cash to the post office in Dawlish, Devon, when he was attacked.

Rikki Ward, 28, and Paul Rowntree, 37, were sentenced at Exeter Crown Court to more than 11 years each for robbery and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Getaway driver Ross Morton, 29, got three years for assisting an offender.

Ward and Rowntree lay in wait and attacked Mr Warner as he carried the weekend takings from the Costcutter store in the town.

Ward squirted industrial strength ammonia in his eyes while Rowntree grabbed the money.

Mr Warner only escaped total blindness because a nearby optician washed some of the liquid away.

Morton then drove the masked robbers to Torquay where they spent £300 in a sport shop.

'Changed his life'

Ward, of Chatham Road, Sunderland, admitted robbery and causing grievous bodily harm with intent and was jailed for 11 years and three months.

Rowntree, of Oswald Street, Sunderland, but who was staying at Exeter Road, Dawlish, denied the charges but was convicted of the same offences and jailed for 15 years.

Morton, of Gatehouse Close, Dawlish, but originally from Sunderland, was found guilty of assisting an offender and jailed for three years.

Judge Geoffrey Mercer told Ward and Rowntree: "Apart from the excruciating pain, he has effectively lost the sight of his right eye and the effect on his life has been vast, it has changed his life forever.

"You are both dangerous offenders."

After the case Det Insp Mike Jones from Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "I can only hope that the sentences that these men receive goes some way to helping him (Mr Warner) recover from this attack."

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