Leeds school run thief’s £150,000 jewels haul

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A man who was part of a gang which robbed a mum of £150,000 of jewellery, as she waited to collect her children at the gates of a Leeds prep school, has been jailed for eight years.

The victim and another woman were threatened with a claw hammer as attempts were made to pull the rings from their fingers.

Anthony Clarke, 39, and two other masked men fled after the woman handed over two diamond rings worth £134,000, a Rolex watch worth £15,000, a £500 designer handbag, an iPhone worth £400 and £300 in cash.

Clarke and his accomplices targeted the woman as she waited outside Moorlands Schools, Foxhill Drive, Weetwood, on October 7 last year.

The trio sped off but crashed their car into a vehicle being driven by another mum on her way to the school 100 yards down the road.

The pair then threatened an off duty police officer before stealing his car and driving off.

Clarke, who has previous offences for violence and robbery, was caught after his DNA was recovered from saliva found on the air bag which had been inflated when the first getaway vehicle crashed.

Jailing him, Judge James spencer told Clarke: “You are a career criminal. It was the most audacious robbery. It was in a different category. It was pre-planned. It was carried out by several of you together.

“You were wearing balaclavas to disguise yourselves. One of you had a weapon about him, The women were vulnerable victims to you three people.”

Lousie Pryke, prosecuting, said two of the masked men initially targeted another woman outside the school. She felt a blow to the head before demands were made for her to hand over her rings. When the woman said she didn’t have any the pair then targeted woman who was sitting in the Range Rover. One of the men got in the vehicle and threatened her with a foot-long claw hammer and tried to grab the ring from her fingers. The woman then agreed to remove them herself.

Clarke, of Hemmingway Garth, Hunslet, pleaded guilty to robbery and blackmail. The court heard he has 29 convictions for 62 offences.

Richard Reed, mitigating, said Clarke, a father-of-two, had written a letter expressing his remorse.

He said Clarke had been working as a labourer but had lost his job and was under pressure from his partner to provide money. He agreed to take part in the robbery after received a phone call and being offered £500.

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