A robber who terrified staff at a Leeds jeweller’s by brandishing a sawn-off shotgun which later turned out to be an imitation has been jailed for eight years.
Dylan Wood was one of two masked men who burst into Brown’s shop in the Arndale Centre, Cross Gates, on the afternoon of January 26.
Wood was armed with the gun while his unknown accomplice had a mallet. They forced the two women working there to their knees after making them open secure displays.
After helping themselves to Rolex watches and other jewellery with a wholesale value of £67,000, the raiders fled in a getaway car waiting outside.
But Patrick Gallagher, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday that Wood had made a reconnaissance visit to the same shop earlier that afternoon and although he had changed his jacket and was masked, he still had the same shoes on and staff believed they recognised him. He had pretended to be interested in buying something for his girlfriend.
The police looked at CCTV from that earlier visit and identified him because he already had a criminal record including robbery and conspiracy to commit burglaries.
Mr Gallagher said officers went to the home of Wood’s girlfriend. He was not there but they seized her phone and discovered he had sent her a text saying he had been “grafting”.
He was arrested a few days later and subsequently helped police recover the shotgun which had been left on an outbuilding roof. An expert examined it and discovered it could not be fired.
Wood of St Alban Court, Gipton, admitted robbery and possession of an imitation gun.
Jailing him, Judge Christopher Batty said the victims of the robbery were not to know that it was not real, and claimed the terror for them was genuine.
He added: “You are 24 years of age and by your own admission you have lived a life of crime.”
In the latest offence he was part of an armed gang which had left at least one of the women working at the shop feeling particularly vulnerable, with her family even wanting her to give up working there.
The judge said: “This was serious professional crime.”
The court was told Wood became involved in the offence out of fear because he owed money for drugs which he had started taking last year following the death of his mother.
After the case, Det Constable Adam Cherry, who led the investigation, paid tribute to the strength of character of the two members of staff involved.