Post Office Raid

10:30 – 26 January 2005
Masked raiders threatened a postmaster and his wife with a baseball bat and then stole £23,561, a court heard.

Lincoln man Mark Palmer (33) is on trial for allegedly being part of a gang that robbed a post office in Fiskerton, near Lincoln, in July last year.

Palmer and two accomplices threatened sub-postmaster Lester Tyler and his partner Lynne Davison while their two young children slept upstairs, Nottingham Crown Court heard yesterday.

Jurors were told that the gang then demanded the keys to the safe and stole the cash from inside, together with almost £1,000 of shop takings and Mr Tyler’s own money.

They are also alleged to have stolen Mr Tyler’s wallet and Ms Davison’s mobile phone and handbag while Mr Tyler was pinned to the floor with a baseball bat.

Mr Tyler has lived at Fiskerton Post Office with his partner and children Adam (12) and Amy (10) since 2003.

“It was a very frightening experience. I was lying on the floor with the baseball bat pressed against the back of my neck,” he told the court.

“They started demanding that Lynne tell them how to open the safe. I became extremely worried because Lynne doesn’t work in the post office so she doesn’t know how the safe works but I wasn’t sure if they would believe that.

“Fortunately, I managed to tell them it was me they needed to speak to and I told them where they could get the keys.”

The gang wore boiler suits and balaclavas but Ms Davison noticed that one of them spoke with a South African accent when he demanded the keys to the safe. She said the gang then drove away in Ms Davison’s Renault Megane.

Ms Davison said: “After they left I ran upstairs to check on the children, who had slept through the whole raid. I then called the police on my daughter’s mobile phone, as the gang had stolen mine and Lester’s and had disabled the house phone.”

Palmer is accused of being the third member of the gang, who waited outside while the other two threatened Mr Tyler and Ms Davison and stole the money. He allegedly came into the Post Office to tell the others that the alarms had been set off.

David Palmer, prosecuting, told the court that the accused’s car, a K-registration Ford Escort, had been left at the scene.

Mr Palmer also said that a police officer happened to remember stopping the car the previous day.

When Palmer was arrested, police found a bag containing £1,170 and Ms Davison’s mobile phone in the boot of the car he was travelling in, said Mr Palmer.

Palmer of Charlesworth Street, Lincoln, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated burglary and taking and driving away a vehicle without the owner’s consent.

The jury heard that Palmer, a man named Alistair Rigett and a man with a South African accent had visited a friend, Ian Wilson, the night before the raid.

Mr Wilson was called as a prosecution witness. He alleged that the trio had asked to borrow a baseball bat, as well as masking tape, black paint and a sledgehammer.

He said that when he heard that three men had burgled Fiskerton Post Office using a baseball bat he became worried and called police.

He had once been friendly with Palmer and Rigett, he said, but had lately fallen out with Rigett.

“I did not ask what they wanted the baseball bat for, and I didn’t care,” he said. “They woke me up at 11.20pm shouting at my window. I was worried the neighbours would complain so I just handed over the bat to get them to go away.”

Mr Wilson admitted that he had served prison terms for theft but said he was appalled that anybody would use a baseball bat to commit a crime in a home with two young children. He denied suggestions by defence barrister Michael Cranmer-Brown that he was also involved in the crime.

The trial continues.


10:30 – 28 January 2005

Burglary suspect Mark Palmer was at home asleep when raiders armed with a baseball bat burst into a post office, a court heard.

Unemployed Palmer (33) told police that the £350 they found on him was given to him by a friend and he had never seen £1,170 found in his overnight bag before.

Palmer, of Charlesworth Street, off Newland Street West, Lincoln, is accused of being part of a gang of three men who stole £25,000 from Fiskerton Post Office after threatening sub-postmaster Lester Tyler and his partner Lynne Davison with a baseball bat.

The gang then stole Ms Davison’s Renault Megane as a getaway car.

Palmer denies aggravated burglary and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent in July 2004.

The officer in charge of the case, DC Chris Dickinson, told Nottingham Crown Court yesterday that he had arrested Palmer after a blue K-reg Ford Escort had been left behind at Fiskerton.

He said the Escort had been stopped the day before by a traffic officer for having an out of date tax disk. Palmer was driving it.

Two men who were also in the car when it was stopped, Alistair Rigett and Dylan Tyler, could not be found, he said.

Despite extensive searches throughout Lincolnshire, and alerting port and airports in case they tried to flee the country, neither of them had been located.

DC Dickinson said: “Palmer was arrested at Charlesworth Street as he walked from a red BMW towards the flats.

“When the arresting officer searched the BMW’s boot he found a bag of clothes which Palmer confirmed belonged to him.

“Inside the bag was a bundle of £10s, all stacked in the same way, which amounted to £1,170. The officer also found a silver O2 mobile phone which was later established to belong to Ms Davison, and £350 in cash in Palmer’s trouser pocket.”

During his interview at Lincoln police station, DC Dickinson said Palmer had told detectives he had been given the money by Alistair Rigett, who was a keen poker player.

Palmer had said Rigett sometimes gave him money for no particular reason, and he did not question why he was being given it.

He said he had never seen the £1,170 or the mobile phone before, but said it could have fallen in to his bag when he, Rigett and Tyler were all packing up their things that morning.

Palmer’s fingerprints were found on the £350 roll of notes, but there was no forensic evidence linking him to the Post Office, the baseball bat or the getaway car, the jury heard.

Earlier in the trial, the court heard evidence from Mr Tyler, who said he had been pinned down by the raiders who broke into his post office. The trial continues.


10:30 – 31 January 2005

The trial of alleged robber Mark Palmer was resuming today after the case was called off because the accused was ‘too tired’.

Palmer (33) of Charlesworth Street, Lincoln, is on trial for allegedly being part of the gang-of-three who stole £25,000 from Fiskerton Post Office after threatening the owners with a baseball bat.

Michael Cranmer- Brown, defending, said Palmer missed transport back to Lincoln Prison, where he is being held on remand, after Thursday’s proceedings.

The court heard he had spent a sleepless night in a Nottingham police cell and was not well enough to give evidence on Friday.

The trial was set to resume today


10:30 – 03 February 2005

A Man accused of being part of a gang who pinned down a postmaster with a baseball bat has been cleared.

A violent burglary at Fiskerton Post Office was alleged to have been carried out by Mark Palmer (33) with two other men.

A jury at Nottingham Crown Court found him not guilty by a majority verdict yesterday, after failing to agree on a decision.

Mr Palmer has been held on remand at Lincoln Prison, in the city’s Greetwell Road, since he was arrested on July 25, the morning after the burglary.

In the early hours of July 25, three masked men broke in to the post office.

When postmaster Lester Tyler and his partner Lynne Davison woke up they were threatened with baseball bats while their children were asleep upstairs.

The burglars then broke into their safe and stole almost £25,000, before finally making off in Ms Davison’s car.

Mr Palmer always maintained his innocence, saying that the burglary was carried out by his ex-brother in law Alistair Rigett and a South African man called Dylan Tyler or Dylan Doran.

Earlier in the case, the court heard that Rigett and Tyler had not been seen in Lincoln since the burglary, and that police believed they may be in Spain.

The court heard from Ian Wilson, who claimed that Rigett, Tyler and Mr Palmer had visited him at 11pm on the night of the burglary, asking to borrow his baseball bat.

He said he heard about the burglary the next day on Lincs FM and became concerned.

Although he had convictions for burglary himself, he said he was “disgusted” that anyone would use baseball bats in a place where there were children.

Presiding over the case, Judge Christopher Mitchell warned the jury against giving Wilson’s evidence too much weight, describing him as a “bad character”.

Michael Cranmer-Brown, for the defence, had also suggested the Mr Wilson himself was involved in the burglary, which Mr Wilson strongly denied.

When Mr Palmer was arrested police found £1,170 in his overnight bag, together with Lynne Davison’s mobile phone.

Mr Palmer said Rigett planted the money and the phone because he wanted to frame him.

He said the money in his pocket was given to him by Rigett as a gift. Mr Palmer used to be married to Rigett’s sister Angela, but the marriage broke down in 2001 and Mr Palmer has two convictions for assaulting her.

He suggested that, for this reason, Rigett was trying to frame him.

Mr Palmer, of Charlesworth Street, Lincoln, said that he was at home alone and asleep at 2am, when the burglary took place.

The jury took around four and a half hours to reach its verdict.

Police are not believed to be seeking anyone else in connection with the burglary.