Three men who carried out a terrifying masked armed robbery at a convenience shop in Leeds have been handed extended prison sentences totalling nearly 50 years.
Bradley Myers, 24, Bradley Turner, 23 and John Turner, 29, burst into the Tesco Express store in Cookridge just before 10pm on April 22.
Leeds Crown Court today heard that customers and shop workers were threatened and beaten with a hammer during the raid, as the men tried in vain to get the store’s safe open.
They fled the scene with money from the till and cigarettes, but were soon arrested after being tracked by a device hidden inside the cash.
While the ordeal only lasted between three and four minutes, Judge Geoffrey Marson QC told the court: “This was a terrifying robbery. As expected this has had a profound psychological effect on some of the victims.”
One staff worker, in his 20s, who was dragged by his hair, threatened with an axe, beaten several times with a hammer and punched in the head, has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the robbery.
Myers, of Wakefield Road, Oulton, and Bradley Turner, of Lea Farm Walk, Kirkstall, were each sentenced to a minimum of 12 years in prison followed by an extended licence period of four years.
John Turner, also of Lea Farm Walk, was sentenced to 13 years, four months in prison followed by an extended licence period of four years.
Jailing them, Judge Marson said: “Not only had you equipped yourselves with these weapons, each of you did what you could to disguise your identities by covering your faces.
“You decided to rob the store just before closing time, no doubt in anticipation that there would be the maximum amount of money available and also that there was less likely to be many customers in the shop.”
John and Bradley Turner shouted across the courtroom from the dock as they were sentenced, and there were outbursts and cries from family in the public gallery.
Bradley Turner also lashed out as he was taken away and could be heard shouting “get off me” to officers while being restrained.
There were five people in the shop at the time of the robbery in April, including two customers - a man and woman both in their 60s - and three staff workers aged 20, 24 and 39.
Prosecutor Bashir Ahmed told the court that Bradley Turner was first through the door, carrying a hammer, followed by John Turner, who appeared to be empty-handed.
Myers was carrying a large black holdall and a black hand-axe.
“They were armed with weapons and their faces were covered with balaclavas and hooded tops,” Mr Ahmed said.
“They were brandishing weapons, they grappled with staff and members of the public, and used violence towards them.
“Their aim was to obtain cigarettes and money, from the safe principally.”
After bursting through the door, Bradley Turner grabbed the male customer by the hair, forcing him backwards and threatening him with the hammer.
John Turner ran to the rear of the shop, before Myers threatened the same customer with the axe and forced him to the floor.
Bradley Turner then took hold of the male member of staff by his hair, and “frogmarched” him and a female worker down the shop’s drinks aisle, threatening them with the hammer and demanding to be taken to the safe.
After being told the staff did not have the keys, Myers struck the man “a number of times” with the hammer, causing bruising.
He was also punched twice in the head during the robbery, the court heard.
Judge Marson said: “Realising that the safe was not going to be opened, one of you then marched [the male staff worker] back down to the tills and forced him to open it, saying: ‘try anything and I’ll smash your face in’.”
Cash was taken from the till and John Turner filled the holdall with cigarettes.
But the court heard that Bradley Turner went back to the room where safe was located, followed by Myers.
Unable to open the safe, Turner went back to the front of the shop, grabbed the female staff worker by her hair, and took her to the safe.
The court was also played harrowing footage of the robbery, captured on the store’s CCTV cameras, which showed the raid from several angles.
Judge Marson said: “You demanded she open the safe.
“But no doubt in panic and terror, she could not remember the code.
“You are seen [on CCTV] speaking to her, threatening her with the hammer and you strike her in the head with it.
“Eventually, she recalled the number but she told you there was a 10 minute delay.”
The court heard that after being told of the delay, he punched her in the face and accused her of lying.
A BMW car, bought earlier that day to be used as their getaway vehicle, was abandoned in Armley and the trio were found by officers nearby soon after and arrested.
All three men pleaded guilty to one count of robbery at the earliest opportunity.
Michael Walsh, for Bradley Turner, said he had fallen into a “downward spiral” after losing his job which eventually caused him to be involved in this offence.
“In the period when he was employed, he demonstrated an ability to make progress in his life,” Mr Walsh added.
Allan Armbrister, mitigating, said Myers had “already begun to work on changing his lifestyle”.
Stephen Smithson, representing John Turner, asked for the guilty plea to be taken into consideration ahead of sentencing.
Following the sentencing today, Detective Inspector James Entwistle, of Leeds District CID, said: “Although these three were only in the store for about three minutes, I know it will have felt like a lifetime for the staff and customers who were put through an absolutely terrifying ordeal by them.
“The victims were threatened with weapons and assaulted and put in genuine fear for their lives all so that these men could steal cash and cigarettes.
“We do not underestimate the traumatic effect their actions have had on the victims’ lives and we hope those who suffered at their hands can take some comfort from knowing that they have now had to answer for what they did.
“We also hope the significant sentences they have received will serve as a stark reminder to others who think can commit serious offences such as this without having to face the consequences.”