Watch CCTV evidence showing armed robbers entering and leaving Wonderland

Basingstoke Gazette: Wonderland Wonderland

THEY thought they had got away with daylight robbery – but today Ashley Flanagan and Anthony Bermingham are behind bars after being found guilty of a £10,000 hold-up at a Basingstoke nightclub.

Flanagan, who was deputy manager at Wonderland, gave vital information to Bermingham who, along with another man, carried out the robbery at the club, in Churchill Way, at lunchtime on Monday, February 25 this year.

The two robbers threatened manager Samir Bekkale with a handgun, tied his hands behind his back and stole £10,000 of the nightclub’s takings – money that has never been recovered.

Last Friday, a jury found Flanagan, 39, of Pinkerton Road, South Ham, and Bermingham, 38, of Wolseley Street, Bermondsey, London, guilty of conspiracy to rob, and the pair were each jailed for 12 years. Bermingham’s accomplice in the actual hold-up remains at large.

Passing sentence, Judge Jane Miller said the robbery involved “a considerable degree of planning”, with Flanagan taking advantage of Mr Bekkale’s “sloppy” cashing up system.

Addressing Flanagan, the judge said: “You took notice of this and you clearly approached your friend Anthony Bermingham for him to join you in stealing money from the nightclub. The robbery was carefully, well and fully planned in my view.”

During a two-week trial, the jury heard that there were some 174 text messages and calls between Flanagan and Bermingham in the days leading up to the robbery.

Amongst them were two texts, later deleted by Flanagan, in which he told Bermingham just minutes before the raid that Mr Bekkale was in the club alone and the cash boxes were open on a desk in the office.

Flanagan then left the nightclub to get coffee and sugar while the robbery took place, and “played hero” by comforting Mr Bekkale on his return.

But detectives subsequently seized Flanagan’s two mobile phones after the robbery and found the deleted texts and the scale of contact between him and Bermingham.

Mobile phone data and video footage also captured Bermingham travelling from London to Basingstoke on the day of the robbery.

Flanagan and Bermingham were arrested – the latter with the help of armed police after acting on information supplied by the Metropolitan Police.

The jury heard that Flanagan, a former Bishop Challoner School pupil, and Bermingham were friends from childhood, when they grew up together in Limerick, Ireland.

Flanagan moved to Basingstoke as a teenager and later worked as a taxi driver and at Censo bar, in Church Street, before joining Wonderland as a handyman.

Despite their past friendship, the pair provided different defences to the jury. Flanagan said he feared “a bullet in the back of the head” if he did not take part in the robbery, while Bermingham said the robbery was staged, with even the victim knowing what would happen.

The jury of six men and six women took just over five hours to find both men guilty. On hearing the verdicts, Flanagan’s head dropped to his chest, while Bermingham showed little emotion.

After the hearing, Detective Constable Richard Chegwidden, of Basingstoke CID, said: “It was a positive result after a long and protracted investigation.

“A serious offence was committed which has affected not only the life of the victim but also the relatives of the defendants in this case.”

*Watch police CCTV evidence that was part of the prosecution case below:

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