A gang of four dangerous 'cowardly' criminals who terrorised families in their own homes and targeted business in Leeds have been handed jail terms totalling more than 96 years.
Victims were threatened with guns, hammers, knives and meat cleavers during the series of raids in which vulnerable victims were targeted for "easy money"
During one raid a dad had a gun pointed at his head while his wife had a knife held to her throat as their two children cowered in a bedroom
The gang targeted a pub, sports clubs and a petrol station before progressing to violent raids on homes in Roundhay, Collingham, Horsforth and Alwoodley.
They produced handguns and threatened to shoot some of the victims who were confronted by the masked offenders.
Another victim, a 74-year old man who was recovering after an operation, was threatened with an axe and forced to lie down on his sofa.
Others were forcefully man-handled before being left locked inside rooms within the properties while the offenders stole items before fleeing the scenes.
Cash, jewellery, safes and cars were taken in the raids.
One of the victims said in statement: “I have had my life changed forever. To live in fear is draining, tiring and hard work. The first thing I noticed was the glistening blade of the meat cleaver and two guns pointing at me. That night was a real life horror movie and I am traumatised beyond all belief.”
Judge Christopher Batty described the distress some of the victims had suffered during the attacks as "heartbreaking."
Three of the gang members were given extended prison sentences after the judge told them they were a serious danger to the public.
Judge Batty said: "The lack of respect for other human beings and what they have worked hard for is disgraceful. They pick on vulnerable families in their own homes who they know will be scared witless. They are cowards and they are bullies and that is what makes it disgraceful"
Leeds District Serious Organised Crime Unit launched Operation Dodgeberry to investigate the offences which led to the members of the gang being charged.
David Robinson, 22, of Kendal Drive, Halton Moor, was given extended prison sentence of 28 years. Robinson pleaded guilty at a hearing last year to a robbery at the Mustard Pot pub, in Chapel Allerton, a burglary at a home in Horsforth and aggravated vehicle taking from an address in Alwoodley.
He was sentenced today after admitting further charges relating to an armed robbery at a house in Collingham where firearms and other weapons were produced and an armed robbery at an address in Alwoodley where weapons including axes were produced.
Lee Robinson, 24, of Kyffin Avenue, Halton Moor was sentenced to 26 and a half years after pleading guilty to armed robberies at the Tesco filling station, in Seacroft, and The Mustard Pot pub where firearms were produced and at homes in Collingham, Alwoodley and Roundhay.
He was also convicted of a ram-raid style burglary at Temple Newsam Golf Club where the offenders used the vehicle stolen hours earlier during one of the robberies in Alwoodley, and a burglary at a house in Horsforth where three firearms were stolen, these were subsequently used and recovered from the scenes of the robberies in Collingham and at the Leodiensian Club.
David Ackroyd, aged 31, of Sherbrooke Avenue, Halton Moor, was jailed for 23 years for armed robberies at The Old Leodiensian Club and homes in Alwoodley and Collingham and a burglary at a house in Horsforth where the offenders were seen to be in possession of various weapons including hammers.
Andrew Dyer, aged 27, of Kendal Drive, Halton Moor, who was the driver in many of the offence was sentenced to 19 years for the armed robberies at The Mustard Pot, The Leodiensian Club and the house in Collingham and the burglary in Horsforth.
Detective Inspector Jaz Khan, who heads Leeds District Serious Organised Crime Unit, said: “These offences saw the victims put through absolutely terrifying ordeals after being confronted by masked men armed with firearms and other weapons.
“A number of these crimes took place in people’s homes where they have a rightful expectation of safety and security. The lasting traumatic impact that these men’s actions have had on the victims should not be underestimated.
“All those attacked in their homes were decent, law-abiding members of the community who appeared to have been targeted purely because of their apparent wealth.
“We hope it will provide some degree of comfort and reassurance to them to know that the people responsible have now been brought to justice and given lengthy terms in prison.
“We also hope that seeing these men brought to justice will serve as a stark reminder to others who think they can take part in violent organised crime without having to face the consequences.”