A BETTING shop assistant manager has been jailed for 12 years after she faked being a victim of an armed robbery.
Natalie Solari, 30, hit the panic button and “sobbed uncontrollably” when the Coral store in Ramsgate, Kent was robbed of £11, 000 at gunpoint – but the whole thing was an inside job.
Solari was working behind the counter of the bookies when armed raiders Tyler McNeill, 26, and Daniel O’Reilly, 39, burst in wearing masks and carrying imitation firearms.
CCTV footage from the robbery shows Solari visibly panicked as the pair approach the window – she waves her arms in the air before grabbing her chest.
But she then springs into action, opening the safe and emptying the till before handing over armfuls of cash to the assailants.
The getaway car, identified on CCTV as a black Renault Megane was being driven by a third accomplice, Simon Bennett.
Despite the convincing show the scam began to unravel once Kent Police launched their investigations.
The two armed robbers were identified on CCTV in Canterbury earlier that same day and their phone data was analysed.
Cops then uncovered a call between Solari and one of the thieves on the same day as the stick-up.
The plot thickened when the getaway vehicle was picked up by the DVLA and McNeill and O’Reilly’s DNA was found inside.
Then on December 11, 2018 Solari, of Margate, Kent and Bennett, of no fixed address were arrested in connection with the robbery.
McNeill of Aylesham was arrested in Maidstone on February 16 this year and O’Reilly of Dymchurch was interviewed by police on May 13, 2019.
‘GAMBLE DIDN’T PAY OFF’
McNeill and O’Reilly each pleaded guilty to charges of robbery and the possession of an imitation firearm.
Bennett and Solari were also charged with the robbery but denied the offences.
Bizarrely, Bennet claims he had no idea he was driving the pair to an armed robbery, although he admits to giving them a lift.
Solari denied all knowledge but the thieves claimed she had txted them saying the safe was open and they should “hurry up.”
However, a jury found all four of them guilty.
Solari received 12 years in prison, Bennett received five years in prison, McNeill received eight and a half years in prison and O’Reilly received seven and a half years in prison.
Detective Inspector James Derham from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “These people worked together to steal from and deceive Solari’s employer.
They carried out a robbery that would have looked terrifying to the innocent and unsuspecting members of the public both inside and outside the bookmakers at that time.
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“Solari claimed to be a victim in this ordeal but was caught out due to the diligence and hard work of officers investigating the case.
“Thankfully a jury saw through her account along with Bennett’s. Their gamble didn’t pay off and all four of them will now spend time in prison.
“Violent crimes will simply not be tolerated and Kent Police remains committed to identifying those people involved and gathering all the evidence possible to ensure a conviction.”
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