DOZENS of high value watches worth almost £1m were stolen during gunpoint robberies at jewellery stores in Leeds and London, a jury heard.
Four men are standing trial at Leeds Crown Court after being charged with conspiring to rob Berry’s jewellery store on Albion Street, Leeds, on March 24 and Watches of Switzerland on Oxford Street, London, on February 25 this year.
Estonian nationals Raigo Malm, 39, Alar Kajurand, 26, Rainis Kilk, 26, and Tamair Uibopuu, 30, all deny conspiracy to rob.
Prosecutor, Timothy Capstick said the robbery at Berry’s happened just after 6pm on Wednesday February 25.
The court heard more than £900,000 worth of watches were stolen during the raid in Leeds.
A total of 64 watches worth just under £0.5m were recovered, but watches worth more than £400,000 are still outstanding.
Mr Capstick said Kajurand was caught on CCTV wearing a wig as he approached the security door at Berry’s, adding: “He produces a gun once inside the premises and the guard and the other staff back away.”
Mr Capstick said Kilk and Uibopuu then entered the store armed with hammers and smashed glass display cases before taking watches.
The jury was told members of the public detained Uibopuu on Albion Street while Kajurand and Kilk caught a train to Manchester from Leeds rail station.
Mr Capstick said the robbery at Watches of Switzerland on Oxford Street, London, took place just after 6pm on Wednesday February 25.
The jury was shown still images from CCTV footage and were told one of the images showed two robbers in the doorway of the premises.
Mr Capstick said one image shows Kajurand carrying what appears to be a handgun in his right hand.
The court heard six Cartier watches worth just under £30,000 were stolen in that robbery.
The jury was told a security guard at Watches of Switzerland managed to grab one of the robbers and there was a struggle during which the robber dropped a bag.
Mr Capstick said: “It came to an end when the other robber, the man we suggest was Kajurand armed with the handgun, returned to the store and threatened (the security guard). The two robbers then made their escape.”
The jury was told the bag dropped at the scene contained a seventh Cartier watch, worth £4,300, along with an empty Tropicana plastic drinks bottle. Mr Capstick said DNA evidence was found on the bottle which linked Kilk to it.
Mr Capstick said CCTV evidence from the London raid featured Kajurand wearing distinctive training shoes, which the prosecution say are the same pair found in his possession when he was arrested in Manchester on March 25, the day after the robbery in Leeds.
The jury was told that in the days leading up to the robbery in Leeds, all four defendants were staying at the Britannia Hotel in Manchester.
Mr Capstick said Kajurand and Malm travelled to Liverpool on March 22 to buy a BB gun or air pistol from a shop in the Anfield area for £50.
The jury was shown a photograph of a till receipt for the gun after the receipt had been recovered from the hotel room in Manchester.
Mr Capstick said police have produced a disc of CCTV footage from various sources showing the movements of Kajurand, Kilk and Uibopuu in Leeds on March 24.
He said CCTV footage shows Kajurand going into the toilets at Leeds rail station before coming out of the toilets wearing the wig he wore during the robbery.
The jury was told there was second guard at the door, which is kept locked, at Berry’s jewellers on Albion Street.
Mr Capstick said: “What it (the CCTV footage) shows we suggest is Mr Kajurand approaching the front door. He was wearing a wig and in effect the second guard gestures to him to remove the wig or hat and as he does so Kajurand enters. He produces a gun once inside the premises and the guard and the other staff back away from the three men. Kilk and Uibopuu, both who are armed with hammers, smashed display cabinets and removed watches from the display and place them in bags they are carrying.”
The jury was told the three men were in the store for around three minutes and a number of witnesses called police.
Mr Capstick said Kajurand and Kilk ran down Albion Street and caught a train back to Manchester from Leeds rail station.
The jury was told the two men disposed of a bag containing the gun and wig in industrial bins in a side street in Manchester, which was later recovered by police.
Mr Capstick said Kajurand can be linked to the wig by DNA and to the gun by a fingerprint found on the grip of the weapon.
The jury was told that Uibopuu ran up Albion Street in Leeds and was detained by three members of the public until police arrived.
A hammer was recovered from a bag, along with 64 watches that had a combined value of just under £0.5m.
Police arrested Kajurand and Kilk at the Brittania Hotel in Manchster in the early hours the following morning.
Mr Capstick said the outstanding watches were not recovered.
Mr Capstick said Malm was not present at either of the robberies, but was involved in planning both raids.
He told the jury that while Uibopuu was involved in the armed robbery in Leeds, there is no evidence to suggest he was involved in the armed robbery in London.