A former Trago Mills security guard and mechanic friend have denied involvement in a failed shopping center robbery near Newton Abbot. Matthew Jagla, 29, and Samuel Boon, 28, are accused of mounting an ‘inside job’ which relied on knowing when cash receipts were transferred from one part of the building to another.
CCTV captured the moment two masked men jumped out of a Ford Mondeo and attempted to take money from security guards. They left empty-handed after a quick-witted guard radioed for help.
Jagla was employed as a security guard at Trago Mills at the time and is said to have knowledge of security devices. It is claimed that Boon had access to the car.
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The prosecution claims DNA, CCTV and phone date analysis link the men to the crime. But the two defendants, who are on trial at Exeter Crown Court, say there is no direct evidence linking them to the incident. They each told the jury that they had no role in the attempted robbery or in its planning.
Boon, who works as a mechanic in Torquay, said he and Jagla had been friends since school. He said he first learned of the incident when police arrested him several months later.
The prosecution says frequent phone calls and messages between the two men before and after the attempted robbery indicate their involvement. But Boon, of Barton Road, Torquay, said they were just friends communicating with each other.
He said he “vaguely” remembered working on the Ford Mondeo and might have given Jagla a lift, but he couldn’t be sure. He said DNA found on gloves in the vehicle could be explained because he regularly wore gloves to perform mechanical work on vehicles.
Ms Bathsheba Cassel, defending Boon, asked: ‘Were you involved in the attempted robbery?
“No, I didn’t,” Boon said. He said he couldn’t remember where he was at the time because it was so long ago.
The incident happened around 8 p.m. on December 17, 2018. Two security guards were carrying the day’s receipts from the construction center to the main building. Their route took them outside near the parking lot.
CCTV showed the Ford Mondeo driving through the parking lot and blocking their path. Two masked men came out of the passenger doors but were gone within seconds when the guard came back inside and radioed for help. The driver of the car has not been identified.
The Mondeo drove off and was found abandoned in a parking lot in Heathfield the following day. Jagla told the jury that he was picking up his girlfriend from work at the time of the robbery.
Mr Simon Burns, defending Jagla, said it was a plausible alibi and the phone records confirmed it. He said Jagla, of The Strand, Dawlish, was not a man with a dishonest or violent past.
“There is no identification in this case,” he told the jury. “There’s no direct evidence, it’s all circumstantial. There are pieces that don’t quite match.”
The jury has now heard all the evidence. On Thursday (March 17), Judge Timothy Rose will summarize the evidence before asking the jury to retire and consider a verdict.