A CRIMINAL who masterminded the robbery of a Leeds jewellery store in which watches worth almost £1m were stolen at gunpoint has been jailed for 19 years.
Raigo Malm - known to his criminal associates as ‘The General’ - organised a criminal gang that flew around Europe to commit high value jewellery robberies.
Estonian national Malm, 40, was today found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery after a re-trial in relation to the raid at Berry’s jewellery store on Albion Street, Leeds, on March 24, 2015.
Three other men - Alar Kajurand, 26, Rainis Kilk, 26, and Tamair Uibopuu, 30, - were found guilty of the robbery conspiracy in November last year but the jury had been unable to reach a verdict in relation to Malm.
The robbery at Berry’s happened just after 6pm.
Kajurand was caught on CCTV wearing a wig as he approached the security door before producing a gun as staff and s security guard backed away.
Kilk and Uibopuu then entered the store armed with hammers and smashed glass display cases before taking watches.
Members of the public detained Uibopuu on Albion Street while Kajurand and Kilk caught a train to Manchester from Leeds rail station.
The prosecution said Malm was not present at the robbery, but was involved in planning the raid.
The gang also targeted Watches of Switzerland on Oxford Street, London, on Wednesday February 25, 2015
Six Cartier watches worth just under £30,000 were stolen in that robbery.
Judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, told Malm: “You distanced yourself from the robbery itself in order to minimise the risk that you would be caught.
“The evidence that you were involved in the organisation of the Leeds robbery was overwhelming.
“The courts have to mark offences such as this with sentences that send out the message that people who commit or organise them will find no sympathy here.”
After the case, Det Insp Phil Jackson, of Leeds District CID, said: “Malm was known by his criminal associates as “The General” and was the fixer for this organised criminal gang that flew around Europe to commit high value jewellery robberies.
“He would arrive ahead of the other members and complete the detailed planning of the offences to be carried out by his accomplices.
“Although he managed to escape and leave the UK after the Berry’s robbery, a comprehensive investigation by detectives in Leeds uncovered the key evidence that linked him to the offence.
“He was arrested when he flew back to the UK months later, clearly with the intention of committing another robbery.
“These offenders were operating internationally and would have continued to be very difficult to catch had it not been for the courageous actions of the members of the public who intervened and detained one of the gang which helped to put us on the trail of the others.
“We hope Malm’s imprisonment will provide some reassurance to the victims, who were put through terrifying ordeals.
“We also hope it will illustrate to the wider community how criminals who operate internationally can still be brought to justice in just the same way as those closer to home.”
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