A disgraced former police officer who was jailed a decade ago for robbing a post office was today sentenced to 13 years for his third armed raid.
Laurence Shaw, 59, once worked for one of Britain’s most elite police units tracking down and jailing armed robbers.
But his life spiralled into gangland crime after West Midlands’ Serious Crime Squad was disbanded in 1989 amid accusations it had become ‘a law unto itself’.
He was jailed for 12 years in 2001 after admitting two armed robberies and was released in 2007 after serving half his sentence.
But in August this year – just three years after his release – he was involved in a botched armed raid on a post office with a sawn-off shotgun.
Shaw, who was once awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery, held the gun to the head of postman Craig Clarkson at Lostwithiel post office, Cornwall, on August 13, but fled the scene empty handed.
Yesterday at Truro Crown Court he was jailed for 13 and a half years after he admitted one count of attempted robbery and one of possessing an imitation firearm – a single-barrelled shotgun.
Sentencing, Judge Christopher Elwen said: ”This was clearly a terrifying incident for all of those involved.
”Mr Clarkson was in obvious fear he would be shot. The postmaster and his wife have been left traumatised.
”The effect on Mrs Shaw in particular has been particularly upsetting and traumatic.
”She has flashbacks and her sleep patterns are seriously disturbed.”
Shaw worked as a Detective Constable with the West Midlands Serious Crimes Squad but returned to front-line duties after it was disbanded in 1989 amid allegations that its officers fabricated confessions from suspects and the collapse of several prosecutions.
He was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery for his work with the unit, which was ironically designed to fight armed robbers.
But Shaw rubbed shoulders with notorious criminals and befriended Birmingham gangster Christopher Stone after allegedly becoming impressed by his glamorous lifestyle.
He retired from with depression in May 1998 following 24 years’ service and invested a lump sum from his pension into a pub in Shropshire which later went bust.
Shaw, a divorced father-of-two, then moved to Cornwall with his then girlfriend before turning to crime to help solve his financial problems.
He returned to his former patrol area of Solihull to raid a post office on December 22, 1999, and escaped with £18,559. He returned on July 26 the following year to steal another £29,132.
Shaw was arrested in Solihull in 2001 and admitted that his next target was going to be the Barclays Bank branch in Knowle.
Police discovered a double-barrelled sawn-off shotgun, two handguns, shotgun barrels and eight rounds of ammunition hidden in his Range Rover.
He was sentenced to 12 years but was released for good behaviour in March 2008.
But on August 13 this year he armed himself with a single barrel sawn-off shotgun and raided the Lostwithiel Post Office as the owners were closing at around 5.30pm.
During the raid, the brave postmaster grabbed the barrel of his gun, forcing him to run off, the court heard.
Gary Shaw and wife Carol were cashing up when postman Craig Clarkson spotted a man by the rear door wearing overalls and gloves with a holdall.
Shaw shouted ”This is a robbery” before putting on a balaclava and producing the shotgun from a holdall, which he held to Mr Clarkson’s head.
He then marched the terrified postman into the post office shouting ”Don’t do anything silly and no one will get hurt.”
Prosecuting, Jennifer Moore said: ”Mr Shaw made a grab for the gun and held it by the barrel with both hands and a struggle ensured between the robber and Mr Shaw.
”The gun was going to and fro and throughout the robber still had his finger on the trigger.”
Shaw later ran off empty-handed but DNA found on latex gloves in a bag found near the scene matched his and he was arrested.