FIVE men have been jailed for a sledgehammer raid on a jewellers.
After sentencing the men on Monday at Ipswich Crown Court, Judge David Goodin singled out two members of public for praise for the way they had tackled the robbers.
The gang used sledgehammers to shatter display cases at Thurlow Champness, in Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, on February 28, 2011. They grabbed Rolex watches worth more than £23,000, but then fled empty handed after pensioner Mike Graver snatched their bag.
The gang had travelled from Islington, London, to carry out the raid after first checking out their intended target, said prosecutor Andrew Shaw.
They used a hired van to transport two stolen scooters to Suffolk and travelled in convoy with two getaway cars which gathered at a parking area in Long Brackland. Bury.
Half an hour later the two scooters raced up to Thurlow Champness in Abbeygate Street and one was used to batter open the electronically controlled front door, allowing two pillion passengers with sledgehammers to get inside.
Staff at the shop and members of the public who witnessed the robbery were left in a state of ‘fear, shock and distress’, Mr Shaw said, and significant damage was done to the shop.
After fleeing empty handed, the men abandoned the scooters in an alleyway off Long Brackland. Their getaway cars, parked in Tayfen Road, were used to return to London where the men were arrested over five months.
Mr Shaw said CCTV images, the statements of witnesses and mobile phone records had proved vital in tracking down the robbers.
Images had been recovered of gang member George Paget buying the two sledgehammers at a Homebase store in London while automatic number plate recognition cameras had allowed police to trace the movement of the robbers’ vehicles to and from Suffolk.
Dean Armstrong, 21, of HMP Norwich, Charlie Kavanagh, 21, of Western Way, London, George Paget, 20, of Roden Street, London and Jed McDonald, 22, of Molyneux Avenue, Bovingdon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. Dwayne March, 34, of Dewey Road, Islington, was convicted of the same offence earlier this year.
Armstrong and Paget had also pleaded guilty to a similar offence in Ipswich last June.
Marsh, Kavanagh and McDonald were each jailed for six years and Armstrong and Paget for nine.
Sentencing the five men, Judge David Goodin told them: “These were carefully planned and violent robberies of jewellers premises in busy shopping streets of provincial county towns.”
Judge Goodin rejected defence claims that the robberies at Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich had not been professionally planned.
He said: “The previous planning and theft of vehicles used in these robberies, the reconnaissance in each case, the sudden hit and run at the targeted premises are the hallmarks of a professionally planned commercial robbery which each of these was.”