Jewellers raid: Jail for robbers after botched raid

A PAIR of bungling robbers have been jailed for a total of 13 years, following a botched raid on a Battle jewellers last year.

Leon Holder, 21, of Hawkhurst, Kent, and William Smith, 31, of Golford, Kent, were jailed for seven and six years respectively for their roles in the failed heist on Friar House Antique Jewellery in the High Street.

Hove Crown Court heard Holder had disguised himself in a Royal Mail uniform, pretending he had a delivery to gain entry to the shop, which was always locked from the inside.

When the door was opened, Smith rushed in and smashed a display cabinet containing diamond jewellery.

But the duo did not count on grandmother Susan Jenner, 67, who was working in the shop, and manageress Maria Swain.

After pressing the silent alarm wired up to police, the women grabbed a makeshift weapon each - metal bars used for measuring ring sizes - and rounded on the thugs.

They bashed Smith so hard they bent the metal.

In his mugshot, taken later that day, his swollen black eye and cuts from the surprise vigilante counter-attack can clearly be seen.

When he tried to escape, Smith was pinned down by passers-by until the police arrived and he was arrested.

Holder fled with a diamond bracelet and two diamond rings worth £15,850, but was arrested some time later.

Prosecuting, Alan Gardner said: “As soon as Mrs Jenner realised what was happening she pressed the panic alarm which automatically called the police.

“The defendants shouted at the women to get back and went to the display cabinet.

“Susan grabbed a piece of metal tubing and Mrs Swain picked up a metal ring gauge and they used them to hit the defendants.

“Smith suffered slight injuries as a result. Nonetheless, Holder was able to get away and the jewellery was never discovered.”

Defending Smith, Roy Brown told the court: “It may be seen as poetic justice that he received a good hiding as a result of his actions.

“He himself freely admits he deserved it.”

It is believed the robbery was planned by a team of criminals, most of whom were never captured.

Holder was forced to escape on foot as his partner in crime had the keys to the getaway car - a stolen Skoda - in his pocket.

As he ran away, he accidentally bumped into a bystander, Richard Seymour, who is in his mid 70s.

Mr Seymour was knocked to the ground and suffered a broken leg, which needed surgery and gave him a permanent limp.

Police were at the scene within minutes and sent helicopters and sniffer dogs out in a bid to capture the escaped criminal.

At an earlier hearing in Lewes, the duo pleaded guilty to the robbery, which took place on September 17 last year.

Holder also admitted causing grievous bodily harm after knocking Mr Seymour over.

Sentencing, Judge Paul Tain said: “This was a robbery of real seriousness. It must have been fearful for the two ladies inside the shop.

“As it happened, nothing that could be described as a weapon was used by the robbers.

“But the violence of the approach, the urgency of the entry and the violence to the display cabinet was a terribly frightening experience for those who witnessed it.”