Covered Market robbery 'was to protect family'

9:00am Wednesday 27th August 2014

By Damian Fantato

CLINT TOWNSEND tried to rob a jeweller’s in Oxford’s Covered Market because he was being threatened by “loan sharks”, his sister has claimed.

Hailey Townsend spoke out after last week’s inquest into her brother’s death that recorded a verdict of misadventure.

The 33-year-old builder collapsed when he was tackled by members of the public as he tried to break into John Gowing Jeweller’s at about 9.15am on Saturday, March 30, 2013.

He died at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital the following day. Now his sister, Hailey Townsend, has said he tried to carry out the robbery because his family was being threatened.

The 29-year-old said: “He got involved with some people who were then turned against my brother. He had borrowed some money off them and he had paid the money back, but they kept saying it was just the interest.

“They began to threaten him and smashed his windows. They had gone to my brother’s house while his children were in the living room and started banging on the windows and screaming through the letterbox.

“He went to the police and told them that his family was at risk but they just filed it.”

She claimed the loan was only for a few hundred pounds but he paid it back “ten-fold”.

Eventually, she said, the people told him to do “something” because they had told him his children were at risk.

Miss Townsend admitted she knew her brother – who has four children – was planning to carry out a robbery.

She said: “I remember speaking to him a couple of days before the robbery and I told him he had a choice but he said he didn’t and he had to protect his children.

“He told me there was going to be a robbery on a jewellery shop and I tried to talk him out of it but he told me I had to take it with me to my grave. I wanted to pick up the phone and tell the police what was going on but I felt I was betraying my family.”

She added she believed Townsend, who lived in Barton Road, Headington, Oxford, may have wanted to have been caught and sent to prison, in the belief his family would be left alone.

Thames Valley Police spokeswoman Rhianne Pope said: “We can confirm that an investigation was undertaken in Janaury 2013 following a report from Mr Townsend that he had been threatened. Unfortunately it was not possible to identify any suspect and the investigation could not be progressed.

“Following his death a review of this investigation was undertaken and the findings of this review supported the conclusion of the original investigating officer that there were no lines of inquiry available that could identify a suspect.”

Two 32-year-old men are currently on bail until October in relation to the attempted robbery of the jewellery shop.

It was the restraint coupled with Mr Townsend’s coronary heart disease that led to his death, assistant coroner Alison Thompson recorded.

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