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Raiders who preyed on lone Asian jewellers used hammers and a running chainsaw
6:00am Wednesday 21st August 2013 in News
A robbery gang who targeted Asian jewellers across West Yorkshire have been jailed for a total of 57 years.
The balaclava-clad raiders – two of them from Bradford – carried out smash and grabs at shops in Huddersfield, Batley and Wakefield using pickaxe handles and hammers.
Their getaway cars were stolen, with crudely black painted windows. And in one raid, a chainsaw was kept running to stop bystanders intervening.
After gaining entry by smashing windows or doors they twice bundled trays of jewellery into builders’ rubble bags, while on a third occasion they were foiled and fled empty handed.
Rob Mairs, prosecuting, told the jury at Leeds Crown Court: “They targeted Asian jewellers. They are not the high street stores. They are jewellers who deal with the bespoke and word-of- mouth market rather than passing trade.”
Steven Barker, 35 of Merchant Court, East Bowling, Bradford; Garner Smith, 33 of Montrose Street, Bolton Woods, Bradford, and Patrick Mandy Lowther, 33, of Castle Lodge Gardens, Rothwell, Leeds, were found unanimously guilty of conspiracy to rob by a jury and were jailed for 16 years each.
John Boy Morrison, 40 of Cottingley Springs caravan site, Gildersome, who was found guilty by an 11-1 majority on the same charge, was jailed for nine years.
After the verdict he was taken from the dock protesting his innocence and Judge Tom Bayliss QC said he was deemed less involved and convicted than the others who “offend prolifically, sophisticatedly and determinedly and had all been involved in organised crime in the past.”
“This time they had targeted Asian jewellery shops.
“The distinction between such shops and high street jewellers is they are often in quiet residential areas and often occupied by (lone) proprietors.
“In other words the present a soft target. But these yield valuable rewards to men like you.” The first robbery was at Sona Jewellers in Blacker Road, Huddersfield, on February 25 last year.
At closing time the raiders arrived in a stolen Land Rover carrying hammers and after smashing their way into the shop and shovelling gems into bags they demanded the owner open the safe, getting away with valuables worth around £100,000 They next struck at Assad jewellers in Purlwell Lane, Batley, on March 8. They were armed with pieces of wood and a large sword and tried to force their way in by reversing a VW Transporter through the door.
The owners managed to keep them out but one member of staff suffered a slash to his arm.
On Grand National Day, April 14 last year, the chainsaw raid was carried out at W.S Jewellers in Carlton Street, Wakefield, when £150,000 in gems and £4,000 was taken.
After the case Det Insp Paul Harrison said “A dedicated police team have been instrumental in bringing to justice an organised and violent crime gang.
“The gang planned each job meticulously and travelled throughout West Yorkshire identifying targets, who were vulnerable jewellers and used excessive force to get what they wanted.
“They now have time in prison to consider the consequences of their actions and the sentences received today should send a warning out to others looking to get involved in this type of criminality.”