'We thought pal was joking about gun threat to Llanmartin trader' - court hears

First published in News

ONE of the men accused of conspiring to rob a Newport shop said he thought the man responsible was joking when he said he pointed a gun at the shop owner.

Ben Evans, 21, took to the stand at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday and said no-one in the car took Connor Harte seriously when he made the revelation as they drove away from the shop.

Evans, of Malcolm Sargent Close, Scott Stephens, 23, of Tennyson Road, and Daniel Saunders, 19, of Malcolm Sargent Close, all Newport, are on trial accused of conspiracy to rob; they deny the charge.

All three have admitted they were in the car which drove to and from the Lifestyle Store in Birch Grove, Llanmartin, on July 5, 2012, but have said they were in the dark about Harte’s intentions and they were just out for a drive.

The court heard previously that Harte, 19, of Morden Road, Newport, confronted shop owner Christy D’Silva just before 9pm and produced a handgun from a black drawstring bag before demanding cash.

Mr D’Silva refused to hand anything over, despite Harte threatening to shoot him, and he left empty-handed.

Yesterday Evans said they were all in Stephens’ car just going out for a drive around Newport and looking for girls or house parties.

They drove to Llanmartin and Evans said Harte asked Stephens to stop the car as they passed the shop so he could buy a drink.

He returned a couple of minutes later and they headed back to Newport. Evans said that on the journey back Harte told everyone: “I just pulled a gun out on the guy in the shop.” Evans said he thought “it was a silly joke” and didn’t think any more of it.

Prosecutor Huw Evans said there is no dispute between the prosecution and defence counsel that it was Harte who confronted Mr D’Silva.

Harte was recognised on CCTV by a police officer and was arrested at home on July 6. The three co-accused handed themselves in on July 9.

Proceeding.

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