A pair who tried to rob a barber of his week’s takings at knifepoint will learn their fate in August.

Jurors at Oxford Crown Court took more than five hours to unanimously convict James Cumiskey, 42, and Ryan Roberts, 32, of attempted robbery.

The two men had denied wrongdoing, with Roberts claiming he would have been on his way to visit his partner’s home in Thame at the time and Cumiskey telling the jury that his co-defendant committed the knifepoint robbery without his knowledge - and he unwittingly acted as getaway driver.

Judge Ian Pringle QC remanded the two men into custody. They will be sentenced on August 5.

During the four day trial, jurors heard how Luke Key of The Barber Shop, Didcot, cashed up on the evening of November 16, 2018, and drove his girlfriend back to the home they shared in Saxons Heath, Long Wittenham.

As they sat in the Audi convertible outside the house, discussing their plans for the evening, a masked man approached the driver’s door.

Oxford Mail:

The Barber Shop, Broadway, Didcot Picture: GOOGLE

He took Mr Key by the scruff of his neck and demanded he empty his pockets. The robber was said to have been carrying a pocket knife and a silver wrench.

The barber said he kicked out at the man, who ran from the scene empty handed. Mr Key saw him get into a Vauxhall Zafira, which made off at speed.

The couple followed the car, catching up with it at traffic calming measures in Long Wittenham. The barber’s partner took a photograph of the Vauxhall. She said in a statement read to the jury: “There was no way we were going to confront the occupants of the car when we knew they were in possession of weapons.”

Police arrested the car’s owner, Cumiskey, later that evening. He admitted being in Long Wittenham but, when he was interviewed by detectives, claimed he’d offered a lift to a “Simon Peters” and had been asked to stop at Saxons Heath.

Put in the witness stand, Cumiskey admitted he had made “Peters” up. He claimed Roberts had asked him for a lift, for which he was paid £20. He denied involvement in the robbery bid, saying: “I’m here today to prove my innocence. I’ve had this hanging over my head for two-and-a-half years.”

Roberts was accused of being the masked robber. Prosecutors pointed to his personal connection with the barbershop business, which had been owned by his stepdad, DNA putting him in Cumiskey’s car and telephone communication between them before and after the botched robbery bid.

Oxford Mail:

The junction of Saxons Heath, Long Wittenham Picture: GOOGLE

Closing the case for the prosecution, Adam Williams dismissed Roberts’ claims he had not put forward his mum or partner as alibi witnesses because they could not remember the events of a day two-and-a-half years ago as “utter rubbish”.

“It would be extraordinary, I would say, absolutely extraordinary for somebody by guess or off-chance to go after Luke Key after he’d just done the Friday takings,” Mr Williams said.

Roberts’ barrister, Mike Goold, challenged that – saying it was obvious to infer that the owner of a business that dealt in cash would take the money home with him at the end of the week. DNA profiles showed that another person had been in the front of the Vauxhall Zafira, he reminded the jury.

During his police interview, Roberts had laughed at suggestions he’d robbed Mr Key. He said: “If I wanted to rob someone I’d rob them.”

CCTV appeared to show the Zafira near the Barber Shop at the time Mr Key was leaving the business. Other footage put Roberts at Cumiskey’s home in Didcot after the robbery.

Cumiskey, of Royal Berkshire Close, Didcot, and Roberts, of St Anne’s Court, Didcot, will be sentenced on August 5.

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