One of the men accused of plotting to commit 23 robberies across the Black Country told a court that he had unwittingly been in two of the alleged getaway cars which were used in the raids.
Michael Scanlon, who along with co-accused Gavin Reilly denies conspiring to commit the raids, told a jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court that he had no knowledge that either the blue Vauxhall Vectra or a black and white Audi A3 had been used in any crimes.
The 34-year-old, of Rocket Pool Drive, Bilston, admitted that he was the man pictured in a blue Vauxhall Vectra estate outside a garage.
The vehicle was being towed by another Vauxhall Vectra, which was being driven by Reilly, the court was told. Scanlon told the court that he removed the car from a car park outside a block of flats in Roseville, Coseley, after being told by a friend that it had been abandoned.
He said his friend, Kirk Garner, picked him up from his home and showed him where the Vectra was parked, before then dropping him back at his home. Scanlon said he then telephoned Reilly and asked him if he would help him by towing the car.
“I just got told it was dumped, it belonged to nobody,” Scanlon told the court.
He said the original plan was to have it weighed for scrap, but a garage owner offered him and Reilly £200 for the car.
He also admitted being a passenger in a distinctive black and white Audi A3, alleged to have been used in a number of the robberies, when he visited the Co-op in DudleyRoad, Tividale, on December 5. No crime took place on this visit, although the same shop had been robbed on October 28. Scanlon admitted he could not account for his whereabouts on the dates of any of the robberies that took place last year.
The prosecution allege that his mobile phone was within a two-mile radius of the Gornal area on November 5, but Scanlon said it was an area he visited regularly to socialise with friends.
The court was told that a motorcycle was used in a number of the raids, but Scanlon said he had not owned either a motorcycle or a motorcycle helmet. The trial continues.