Court hears of ‘mythology’ of Asda raider

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A MAN involved with a cash-in-transit robbery, where a Royal Mail worker was attacked with a machete, feels that “mythology” has surrounded his personality because of his surname, a court has been told.

Stephen Devalda’s barrister spoke of him having being “betrayed in the press” in a way that was at odds with his criminal record.

His brother Paul was jailed earlier this year for the kidnap and murder of Paul Brady, who was snatched near a development site where he was manager at Weir, near Bacup. His body has never been found.

Now, as Stephen Devalda (28) awaits sentence over his part in a £25,000 robbery plot, his barrister has told Preston Crown Court that his brothers have been referred to as “serious criminals”, but that her client wasn’t in such a category before the robbery occurred.

Rachel Smith said: “His surname in recent times has perhaps carried a degree of mythology that has emerged about his personality.

“When Stephen Devalda was arrested in Spain and extradited earlier this year, it was accompanied by a blaze of publicity.”

Miss Smith said Devalda wanted to face his inevitable custodial sentence and put matters behind him in the future.

He maintained his assertion that he had no kind of knowledge of any imitation firearm being used.

Miss Smith added: “His role, while not peripheral, was limited. He was not the instigator. He was recruited by somebody else and his function was limited to transport”.

Judge Norman Wright adjourned the actual sentencing until Tuesday to give the case more consideration.

At an earlier hearing, the court was told that a Royal Mail delivery worker thought he was going to die during the raid at Asda in Colne in May, 2005. He sustained three marks to his arm.

Devalda, of Stanton Avenue, Salford has admitted a charge of conspiracy to rob, as well as a bail offence.

He had failed to attend court and a Bench warrant was issued for his arrest in October, 2007. He was arrested in Spain on an international arrest warrant which was executed on March 31st this year.

Mr Tim Brennand (prosecuting) told the court at an earlier hearing that the robbery took place around 2 p.m. A man was passing cash to a colleague in the Royal Mail security van. He was approached by two men, one armed with a tube the size of a Smartie tube and the other a machete.

Both were wearing helmets and balaclavas. The man was struck with such force that he fell the the floor. He curled up to protect himself. Blows were struck with the machete causing injury to his arm. One man egged the other on saying “kill him.”

A colleague threw out £25,000. The robbers fled on a motor bike and swopped transport to a car.