Two men who were involved in a failed robbery which saw a woman assaulted have been jailed for seven years between them.

Bertil Baluba drove Jeffrey Michael and an unknown associate to a Rochester business in August 2021.

As Baluba waited in the car, Michael and the other co-offender forced their way into the back office of a Rochester business, placed the victim in a headlock and demanded money. They then ran away after a colleague came to her assistance.

L to R Baluba and Michael desktop
L to R: Bertil Baluba and Jeffrey Michael

The two named men both admitted attempted robbery, with Baluba also admitting an unrelated drug supply charge. They were sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Thursday 24 March 2022.

Woman put in headlock

 The Laker Road business was targeted shortly after 4pm on 31 August 2021.

Dressed from head to toe in dark clothing, with their faces concealed, Michael and the unidentified offender entered a back office where the company’s money is counted before it is deposited into a bank.

Inside the room was a female member of staff and three young children. They placed the woman in a headlock and demanded cash but fled when she called for help.

A colleague heard the victim calling for support and immediately ran to the scene. As he ran to her aid, he noticed the offenders running away.

He chased them towards a grey Range Rover, which was being used by Baluba. Once the offenders entered the vehicle, it sped away.

CCTV

An investigation by the Chief Constable’s Crime Squad found the offenders travelled to the scene in the Range Rover.

Subsequent enquiries revealed that the vehicle was being stored in the car park of a flat where Baluba resided.

On-site CCTV from the complex showed Baluba and Michael entering the vehicle prior to the offence taking place and returning to the same site after the crime had been committed.

They were further pinned to the location by crime scene investigators, who uncovered Michael’s blood on a door at the Rochester business.  

CCTV from a petrol station also captured Baluba re-fuelling the car on the date the offence took place.

Arrests and drug seizure

Both men were detained after two separate warrants were carried out.

Baluba was found lying in bed after officers forced entry to his address on 9 September. Also located inside the property was a quantity of cocaine and drug paraphernalia which is consistent with the supply of illegal substances.

A receipt for the fuel transaction completed on the date of the attempted robbery was also seized.

He was charged on the same date and has been held on remand since.

Michael was arrested on 11 November, following extensive efforts to locate him. He was charged on the same date and has been held on remand since.

  • Baluba, 20, of Royal Crest Avenue, Newham, London, admitted attempted robbery and possessing cocaine with intent to supply. He was sentenced to four years.
  • Michael, 32, of Burnside Close, Rotherhithe, London, admitted attempted robbery and was sentenced to two years and three months.

Detective Constable Nicola Emery, Kent Police’s investigating officer for the case, said: ‘Baluba and Michael have shown themselves to be dangerous offenders who are prepared to use violence against innocent victims. They have no regard for who they hurt and travelled to Kent, from London, for the specific purpose of committing this offence.

‘I am pleased that our investigation was able to piece together a trail of compelling evidence which left them with no choice but to plead guilty.

‘Their imprisonment sends out a strong message that offending of this nature will never be tolerated and I hope this court result now provides the victim with a sense of justice.’

By Ed

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