Armed robbers who hid in Sussex school jailed

Image caption,
The pair were spotted trying to hide in the roof by a pupil who then alerted staff

Two armed robbers who hid in a school after stealing £17,000 from a Tesco in West Sussex have been jailed.

Dominic Mendy and Danny Palmer, both 31, were sentenced at Chichester Crown Court after pleading guilty to robbery and possessing a prohibited weapon.

Mendy and Palmer, of no fixed abode, were given indeterminate sentences.

Sussex Police said they ran into the grounds of a school in Findon Valley after they robbed a security van at a Tesco store in Chichester on 22 March.

'Very dangerous situation'

The men, who were armed with two decommissioned 9mm handguns, threatened the crew of the Group 4 Securicor van as it delivered cash inside the store in Fishbourne Road East.

Following a 21-mile chase they rammed their getaway vehicle into a police car near Worthing before running into the grounds of The Vale First and Middle School.

Sussex Police said they tried to hide in a roof space in the toilets but were seen by a pupil who alerted staff.

They were arrested by armed officers as they tried to leave the school.

Mendy was told he must serve a minimum of four years in prison and Palmer was told he must serve at least five and a half years.

Det Insp Trevor Bates said: "This was a potentially very dangerous situation for the school, but staff moved very promptly to keep the children safe and at no stage were they in any direct danger.

"It is clear that the two men had simply panicked, left their guns in the car, and gone into the first building they came across in which they thought they might hide."

Following the incident head teacher Tony Lovatt sent a letter to parents which said the school was placed on "immediate lockdown" with no pupil or member of staff allowed to leave classrooms while officers searched the site.

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