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Pair in court on armed raid charges

Maidstone crown court
Maidstone crown court

Two men appeared at Maidstone Crown Court today accused of armed raids on betting shops, a bank and building society.

Gary McMeekin was seen on a TV link from Elmley Prison, Sheppey, while Robert Blackburn sat in the dock.

McMeekin, 35, of Kingswear Gardens, Strood, is charged with eight robberies and eight linked firearm offences. Blackburn, 30, of Copperhouse Road, Rochester, is charged with two robberies.

They will return to court on June 14 to enter pleas. Judge Charles Macdonald QC set a provisional trial date for July 5. Both were remanded in custody.

Bookmakers in Strood and Snodland were targeted six times between November and January by a "bookie bandit", who forced terrified staff to hand over money.

The robberies were at Coral in Friary Precinct, Strood, on November 29 and January 13; Coral in Gun Lane, Strood on November 30; Choice Bet in High Street, Snodland on December 2; Ladbrokes in Holborough Road, Snodland, on January 15; William Hill in High Street, Strood, on January 18; Nationwide Building Society, Strood, on March 25 and Lloyds TSB Bank in Perry Street, Northfleet, on April 9.

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