A MAN accused of taking part in a £900,000 robbery at a Leeds jewellers told a jury he believed he was taking part in an insurance scam.
Alar Kajurand also claimed he had beaten up and thought he would be killed if he did not take part in the ‘raid’ at Berry’s jewellers.
Kajurand told the jury that he travelled from Estonia to the UK after being promised a job in the building trade.
Giving evidence at a trial at Leeds Crown Court, Kajurand said he was instead instructed to buy an air gun and ammunition before being forced to join others in targeting the Berry’s store on Albion Street on March 25 this year.
Kajurand told the court he was beaten up when he initially refused to take part and said threats were also made against his relatives in Estonia.
He said the man in charge of the operation told him that he was taking in part in an insurance fraud and told him he had nothing to be worried about.
Kajurand, speaking through an Estonian interpreter, said: “He (the organiser) said ‘don’t worry, I will come with you as well. The shop owner will get all of the stolen items back and we will get money for it. This is a staged robbery because the shop has debts.’”
The court has heard high value watches, including Cartier, Patek and IWC watches, worth more than £900,000 were stolen.
A total of 64 watches worth £485,505 were recovered, but watches worth more than £455,000 are still outstanding. Estonian nationals Raigo Malm, 39, Alar Kajurand, 26, Rainis Kilk, 26, and Tamair Uibopuu, 30, all deny conspiracy to rob.
The jury has been told watches were taken from window displays, which were not locked.
Berry’s president Jeffrey Walton has previously told the jury a suggestion by Kajurand’s lawyer David Dixon that the armed robbery was staged for insurance purposes was “ridiculous.”