A DETECTIVE nearing retirement has brought his final case to justice, seeing a mother who attempted to rob a petrol station then fled to Ireland 20 years ago jailed for 18 months.
Naomi Mothersoul, 54, and then partner Colin Ashman, 43, were captured by police after the "frightening" knife incident at the station in Easton-in-Gordano, Somerset in 1994.
Bristol Crown Court heard Mothersoul, of Wells, Somerset, and Ashman were kept in custody for a week before being released on bail.
The couple immediately fled Britain and set up home in Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland, while warrants for their arrests were left outstanding for two decades in the UK.
But earlier this year, police officer Mike Porter, a detective sergeant who had investigated the case as a police constable, decided to bring the pair to justice as a final operation before his retirement in September.
A European Arrest Warrant was issued for Mothersoul, while Ashman was detained after attempting to enter the UK via South Wales.
At Bristol Crown Court in September, he admitted robbery and attempted robbery and Judge Michael Roach jailed him for five years.
On Monday, Mothersoul was handed an 18-month term at the court after pleading guilty to attempted robbery and not guilty to robbery, which will lie on file.
The court was told that at 11.30am on September 16, 1994, Mothersoul and Ashman arrived at Markham Filling Station on a motorbike.
John Caines, owner of the station for 32 years, filled up the motorbike for them as asked before waiting for payment.
Ashman suddenly pulled a flick knife and headed towards Mr Caines, who managed to sprint back to the petrol station building and lock himself inside. Mr Caines took the registration number of the motorbike and phoned police. Officers tracked the pair to the M5.
Ashman and Mothersoul were arrested and held in custody for a week, before being released on police bail pending a court appearance.
Most retiring police officers leave the ranks with at least one case continuing to plague them.
But as detective sergeant Mike Porter neared retirement he was determined to get a result on his personal bête noire.
Mr Porter decided to devote his last year before retiring to tracking down 54-year-old Mothersoul who fled Bristol almost two decades ago in 1994.
The mother-of-three and an accomplice had fled to Ireland – where Mothersoul lived in Tralee for nearly 18 years.
"I have been pursuing them for some 20 years," said Mr Porter.
"We have just been missing them or finding it difficult to obtain European arrest warrants.
"I'm pleased for the victims," added Mr Porter, now a security manager, after the hearing.
Representing Mothersoul at her sentencing hearing yesterday, Catherine Spedding said her client fled to Ireland as she had a three-year-old daughter in 1994 and did not want to lose her.
The relationship between Mothersoul and Ashman broke down after a few years and the pair have had no contact for more than 15 years, she said.
"She has lived a life with her three children in a council house in Tralee in Ireland," Ms Spedding said.
"There has been nothing further in terms of offending. She has been working in a voluntary capacity in a charity shop. Nobody in her family knew what had happened in 1994.
"The knock on the door came inevitably, she was told she would be brought back to England. She says in many ways it was a relief."
Ms Spedding said Mothersoul would return to live in Ireland with her children after serving the sentence without anything "coming back from her past to haunt her".
Mothersoul, who uses crutches and wears glasses, told the judge "thank you, your honour" as she was led to the cells.