A MEMBER of a violent robbery gang who attacked and terrorised staff at a discount store in Leeds has been jailed for six years.
Three masked men burst into the Hardvard Mills textiles store in Kirkstall Road, Leeds, and hit a female member of staff with a baseball bat before holding a knife to her throat.
The woman and a male colleague, who was recovering from a heart bypass, were locked in metal cages before the gang attacked store owner Lawrence Manley, 61.
Mr Manley was beaten and kicked to his head and body as the gang demanded keys to the safe.
Phillip Adams, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court how Mr Manley bravely and managed to break free. He lashed out at his attackers and threw tubs of paint at them.
Mr Adams said the robbers became confused and began to panic and fled. They left with £800.
Police arrived and rescued the two members of staff from the cages. Mr Manley was found locked in his office, covered in paint and with a large gash to his head.
He was badly dazed and suffered serious bruising to his arms and body
One member of the gang Mark McGregor, of Gilbert Close, Kirkstall, dropped his house key at the scene of robbery, which took place around 9am on November 27 last year.
Police went to McGregor’s home and discovered that he had contacted the council on the evening of the robbery and said he needed the locks to his home changing as he had lost his key.
He was arrested but refused to comment, He later pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of an offensive weapon.
McGregor has previous convictions for violence, burglary and drug offences.
The court heard the two members of staff had been left “shattered”.
Marlon Grossman, mitigating, said McGregor was sorry for what he had done to the victims.
He said: “There is no escaping the ordeal he has put them through. The defendant wishes them well. He apologises. This will be the defendant’s first prison sentence.”
Recorder David Gordon said: “For all intents and purposes this was a professional robbery by three people armed with a knife and baseball bat intending to use force.”
Det Insp Mark Swift, of Leeds District CID, said: “This was a planned attack on a local business which was viciously carried out by McGregor and his accomplices. The victims were subjected to an absolutely terrifying ordeal, the effects of which are likely to stay with them for some time.
“McGregor is a prolific offender who showed a complete disregard for the victims and was prepared to use violence against them to get what he wanted. We hope the fact he has now been brought to justice will provide some degree of comfort to them.
“Our enquiries into this offence are ongoing and we would like to hear from anyone who has any information that could assist in identifying the other people involved.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Detective Constable Darren Young at Elland Road via 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.