Detectives use height analysis to prove guilt of armed robber

An armed robber who tried to pin a violent raid on his brother has been jailed after detectives used height analysis to prove his guilt.

Jun 16, 2021
By Tony Thompson
CCTV of Unwin during the raid and the sock he left behind.

Geoffrey Urwin, 37, had burst into a branch of Coral bookmakers in a suburb of Gateshead in August 2018 wearing a balaclava and carrying a hammer covered in a sock.

He took around £800 from the till before threatening a pregnant staff member with the hammer and ordering her to open the safe.

At this point a member of the public confronted Urwin, causing him to flee the scene, but he inadvertently left the sock that had been covering the hammer.

Detectives at Northumbria Police immediately launched an investigation and sent the seized sock for forensic analysis to try to identify the suspect. It came back as a match for Urwin, but on his arrest he tried to claim he was at work at the time and that the offender must have been his brother.

However, height analysis of CCTV footage showed the suspect was indeed 6ft 6in Urwin, and not his brother, who was three inches shorter.

Detectives were also able to prove Urwin was not working at the time of the offence and he was charged with robbery and common assault.

He continued to deny the charges but was convicted by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court in March. He returned to the court on Monday (June 14) where he was jailed for five years and three months.

Detective Sergeant Steve Patterson, of Northumbria Police, said the case showed how police will use different tactics to “unpick the lies of criminals trying to evade justice”.

He said: “Geoffrey Urwin attempted to deny his involvement in this robbery from the moment he was brought into police custody and I am delighted he is now behind bars. He claimed he must have donated the sock found discarded at the scene to a charity shop, before changing his story and saying the robber must have been his brother.

“But the mountain of evidence against him was so overwhelming that there is no doubt in my eyes that any jury were going to convict him of these offences. He has put his terrified victims through the ordeal of a trial but his case shows the lengths we will go to unpick the lies of criminals and put them behind bars.”

The court heard Urwin had 80 previous convictions, including 13 robberies, violence and conspiracy to supply heroin.

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