TWO men responsible for the armed daylight robbery of a Wetherby jewellers, and a spree of other violent robberies, have each been jailed for 12 years this week.
Paul Kiiam Kirby, 22, of Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, and Sam Hall, of Recreation Grove, Holbeck, also 22, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob at Leeds Crown Court after stealing more than three-quarters of a million pounds in cash and jewellery between July 18 and September 8 last year.
They were convicted of seven offences at Leeds Crown Court on Monday.
The violent spree, in which a total of £831,860.50 in cash and jewellery was stolen, included raids at Caines Jewellers on the High Street in Wetherby, Santander banks in Long Eaton, Derbyshire and Otley, as well as at jewellers in Otley, Brighouse, and llkley,
Prosecuting, Katherine Robinson told the court how both men were part of a gang of three masked and armed robbers who carried out a series of well-planned and coordinated attacks on innocent staff and customers, while raiding shops and banks for cash and jewellery.
The court heard how the gang brandished sledgehammers, verbally abused and assaulted staff in the raids. In the Wetherby robbery they carried an imitation gun.
On September 2 the gang targeted Caines Jewellers on the High Street, Wetherby.
At around 9.15am a blue Subaru car pulled up outside the jewellers. Terrified shop owner Robert Caines and a customer, believed to be in his 50s, were shouted at and threatened while the masked men, one armed with a sledgehammer and the other brandishing a black pistol at Mr Caines, raided the store for jewellery.
In one victim statement read out in court, shop worker Sam Brown, of Lister Horsfall Jewellers in Ilkley, told how he was sworn and shouted at before being kicked in the stomach, causing him to fall down the stairs at the jewellers on September 8.
Mr Brown, who chased the masked robber into the street later identified the man as Kirby.
The gang also targeted Neimentas Jewellers twice on August 12 and 19 at Commercial Street, Brighouse, and Santander Bank in Otley on August 25.
Extensive CCTV enquiries and witness identifications linked the two to each of the robberies and the pair were subsequently arrested by officers from the Force’s Organised Crime Group on September 14, 2011.
Sentencing, Judge Sally Cahill, said: “These offences were carried out on a number of shops and vulnerable premises that provide a service to the local community.
“Clearly these robberies were extremely well-planned. Each involved at least two vehicles and it’s clear that some of these vehicles were used in reconnaissance in the days leading up to them.
“On each occasion, two people went in, they were masked and had sledgehammers and on one occasion there was an imitation gun.
“Whilst I accept it was an imitation, for those in the shop at the time, it would have been every bit as terrifying as a real firearm.”
Judge Cahill acknowledged that Kirby and Hall were neither the “instigator or planner” of the robberies, but they were both “fully involved and aware” of what they were doing. She also took into account their early guilty plea.
Hall also pleaded guilty to the burglary of a Leeds pub in 2010. Both had a string of previous convictions for dishonesty and violence.
Speaking outside court, Robert Caines, whose family-run Caines Jewellers has been in Wetherby for 32 years, told the Wetherby News he thought the sentences were too short.
He said: “I think the men who did this are scum.
“I don’t think 12 years is enough punishment for them.
“I don’t think just because they pleaded guilty they have shown the slightest bit of remorse.
“Why did they carry on doing it so many times?
“Since this robbery I have become very aware of my surroundings and have a lot of background anger.
“I am very concerned with security of both the shop and my own home and have increased security at both.
“It’s ridiculous that something like this happens in a small market town like Wetherby.”
Det Chf Insp Simon Beldon of West Yorkshire Police’s Crime Division Unit, said: “These men were callous and calculated in their mission to steal thousands of pounds in cash and jewellery, terrifying innocent members of the public along the way.
“They threatened members of staff with sledgehammers and sometimes a firearm and in one incident, pushed an innocent man down the stairs as they stole a large amount of expensive jewellery.
“I am pleased that these dangerous criminals have been removed from the streets of West Yorkshire and can no longer pose a threat to our local communities.”