A homeless couple have denied carrying out a robbery at a filling station where a brave grandmother fought off two attackers with their own knife.
Lee Prouse and Jordane Morris said they were not involved in the raid on the Knowle Garage near Braunton, North Devon, where CCTV captured dramatic images of 65-year-old owner Trude Mian resisting two masked intruders.
Prouse and Jordan were living from hand to mouth in her Volkswagen car but say the robbery was carried out by other people wearing clothes which they had given to them.
The couple say they were in North Devon on the day because they had just picked up Morris’ Staffordshire bull terrier dog from kennels in Ilfracombe and were on their way to stay with a friend in Bridgwater.
They blame the raid on their former friend Jamie Latta, who has admitted being one of the two men who went into the store.
The prosecution say Prouse, aged 24, went into the garage and convenience store with Latta and was the man seen on the CCTV carrying the knife who took money from the till.
They say Latta was armed with a meat cleaver which he swung at a landline telephone to stop Mrs Mian dialing 999 to raise the alarm. Morris is alleged to have been the getaway driver.
The jury have been told the trio targeted the shop at closing time because they wrongly believed there was a safe with up to £70,000 cash inside.
Prouse and Morris, of Stanhope Square, Holsworthy, both deny the robbery. Latta, aged 27, who was also living rough in Braunton at the time, has admitted the offence.
Prouse told the jury he and Morris were living a chaotic lifestyle because neither had a permanent home at the time and were sleeping in her car or staying with friends or in hotels.
He said Latta was a friend of theirs who they spent time with in the weeks before the robbery. He said Latta was also homeless, having been thrown out by his partner who had kept or destroyed almost all his clothes.
He told the jury he gave Latta a bag full of clothes and these included the items which were worn by the attackers in the CCTV, found dumped near the garage, and contained his DNA.
He denied going to the garage on the night of the raid last November or being the knifeman shown in the CCTV.
He said he last saw Latta earlier in the day and they had an argument because he believed he had made an inappropriate approach to Morris.
All three had spent the previous night in a Travel Lodge in North Devon but there had been a violent argument in the morning and they had gone their separate ways.
He said:”I did not go back to Knowle on that night or wear any of the clothes used in the robbery.”
Morris said she has never been in trouble and has been a care worker in homes in Bude and Halwill since leaving school.
She said domestic circumstances in the autumn of last year led to her and Prouse living out of her car and keeping all their belongings in the boot.
She said Latta also kept his belongings in the boot from time to time and believed this may explain why her DNA was on some of the items dumped after the robbery.
She told the jury she had used her mobile phone in North Devon but evidence showing she and Prouse called each other in Knowle at exactly the time of the raid was not correct. She said her phone had a fault which meant it did not use the nearest mast to make calls.
She said:”I had nothing to do with this robbery and I have never seen the knife or the balaclava or the meat cleaver. I was not part of the robbery.”