A KILLER and his accomplice have walked free from court after they carried out a sophisticated shoplifting raid on Monks Cross shopping centre.

Lewis Wray and mother-of-four Emma Johnson led police on a high speed pursuit from the York Outer Ring Road along the A64 and through congested roads in Tadcaster, York Crown Court heard.

In the town their transit van crashed into a car when it went through a red light, and kept going, leaving another driver in a state of shock in a damaged car, said Matthew Moore-Taylor, prosecuting.

They were eventually stopped close to the A64/A1(M) junction, tried to flee on foot and were caught.

It was the second time they had been caught carrying out a planned shoplifting expedition from their home base in Doncaster.

“You are the master and mistress of shoplifting,” Recorder Taryn Turner told the couple as she suspended prison sentences on both. “I have no doubt at all you are sophisticated if not professional shoplifters and that is what you were about that afternoon.”

Mr Moore-Taylor said both had been jailed in Nottinghamshire in April 2023 for a similar shoplifting expedition in that county when they used an empty pram to hide their loot as they visited several shops.

Following the Monks Cross raid on September 23 last year Johnson had been at the wheel of the van as it undertook and overtook traffic on the A64, swerving back and forth, including swerving towards police cars as they tried to overtake her.

The judge told her: “You had a total disregard for the safety of others. It was the most appalling piece of driving.”

Wray is currently on life parole having been released part way through a life sentence imposed when he was 17 for murder in 2005.

Johnson, 35, of Runnymede Road, Intake, Doncaster, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving without insurance. Both she and Wray, 35, of Beckett Road, Doncaster, pleaded guilty to theft.

Johnson was given a 13-and-a-half month jail term suspended for 18 months and Wray was given a seven-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months. Both were ordered to do 25 days’ rehabilitative activities and banned from Monks Cross shopping centre for 12 months.

Johnson was also banned from driving for 18 months and ordered to take an extended driving test before driving alone again.

Mr Moore-Taylor said the pair detached security tags from items worth £513 from the dentistry display in Superdrug, Monks Cross, put them into an empty pram and walked out without paying at 1.25pm on September 28.

But staff immediately realised what they had done and alerted police who accosted them in the nearby Sainsbury’s car park.

Johnson falsely claimed she was pregnant, and Wray accused the officer of being a bully before both managed to run off and escape in the van.

Other officers spotted the van on the York Outer Ring Road and the 13-minute pursuit began when Johnson speeded up to 85mph on the 70mph-limit A64 dual carriageway. In Tadcaster’s 30mph zone, she was driving at up to 60mph.

For her, Samuel Sharp said she apologised for her actions. She was remorseful and wanted to reform herself, but the judge said her tears were because she was back in court facing a prison sentence.

The judge said she suspended the sentence because of Johnson’s young children.

Daniel Ingham, for Wray, said prison had adversely affected him and he couldn’t work because of his mental health.