A shop owner whose employee drip-fed information to two criminals – leading to a violent robbery – has spoken of his “ultimate betrayal”.
Zahid Akhter, 30, and his wife Shazia, 32, who run Nisa in Miller Road, Ribbleton, were devastated when they learned worker Anthony Underdown, 27, of The Green, Ribbleton, had passed on information about the movement of shop takings. The couple, who have two children, almost lost their home after £12,500 takings were stolen from Zahid’s cousin, co-worker Qaiser Mehboob, 30.
The father-of-one was followed home and beaten by robbers Thomas Lynch and Martin McDermott outside his home in Accrington in June 2013.
Preston Crown Court heard Underdown, who had worked in the shop since 2010, had passed on information in “revenge” because he was “unhappy with his working conditions.”
Underdown, who had no previous convictions, was jailed for 16 months after admitting assisting in the commission of the robbery. McDermott, 25, of Watling Street Road, Fulwood, and Lynch, 26, of HMP Preston, are already serving 40 months and four years respectively for robbery.
Mr Akhter said: “The worst thing is that he had already been given a second chance by us after being caught stealing cigarettes.
“I had also helped him out financially when he got into trouble with a County Court Judgement.
“I feel totally betrayed, and it has made me not trust other people, which isn’t nice.
“I was shocked when I found he was involved.”
Shazia added: “ After the robbery he carried on working for us, playing with our children when they came into the shop.”
Prosecuting, Hanifa Patel said Underdown was caught out by mobile phone evidence linking him to the robbers.
She added: “The victim arrived outside his home at 11.45pm and as he got out of his car he was approached by McDermott and Lynch.
“They began to hit him all over, the face the head and the body.
“As one hit him the other tried to snatch the takings.
“The victim gave chase and was struck again and that caused him to stop.”
Defending Adrian Williams said: “He’s not a sophisticated man. He has not been before a court and has no convictions.
“It’s my submission Lynch and McDermott had planned a robbery and befriended the defendant.
“He’s been incredibly foolish and deeply regrets what he’s done.”
Underdown, wearing a black shirt with a tie, clasped his hands behind his back as Judge Anthony Russell, Recorder of Preston, said: “The offence you assisted in was a robbery of some seriousness because it involved an attack upon the victim, driving home with the takings from the shop where you worked.
“It must be understood those who do give information to criminals to enable them to commit crime will receive punishment.
“It seems in the before the robbery you gave information to these people, possibly not appreciating what you were doing, but there came a stage you realised these people were going to commit a robbery and steal property, and you had in fact had some kind of problem with your employment and you later told police there was an element of revenge.
“The robbery may not have occurred had you not given that information.
“It’s very sad to see a man with an exemplary character other than this before the court facing such a serious charge.”
Martin McDermott was ordered yesterday to pay Mr Akhter £7,040 compensation following a Proceeds of Crime hearing at Preston Crown Court.