Two armed robbers from Grimsby who were brought to justice by ‘people power’ after raiding an jewellery shop in Louth were today jailed at Lincoln Crown Court.
Christopher London, 25, and Damion Clark, 30, were confronted by local residents after bursting in to Eastgate Jewellers in broad daylight.
Two passers-by guarded the door while another kicked over the getaway vehicle, parked outside the shop, which was captured on camera, the court was told.
Another elderly motorist refused to hand over his car to one of the robbers despite being stabbed, while the other robber fled to Kidgate primary school which was ‘locked down’ as he was confronted by the deputy headteacher.
The two men had a pair of claw hammers and a kitchen knife when they were disturbed by the female owner of the jewellery store as they tried to smash their way in to the store’s display cabinets.
‘Terrified’ owner Julie Smith, who was working in a back office when the raiders wearing motorcycle helmets burst in, was pushed down the stairs and forced to let the robbers leave after bravely pressing an alarm which initially locked them in the front of the store.
However, by the the time the two robbers emerged a crowd had gathered outside the store in the centre of Louth.
Jon Straw, prosecuting, said the two robbers were left ‘high and dry’ after the keys were removed from a motorcycle which they were planning to make their getaway on.
“This is a very remarkable example of people power,” Mr Straw told the court.
“While they were inside trying to effect the robbery of the shop the people of the town banded together and the motorbike they intended to use for their escape was pushed over by a passerby and the keys taken.“They were left high and dry and had to flee on foot.”
Mr Straw said the two robbers split up and Clark fled to the nearby Queen Street car park where retired motorist, Eric Chapman, refused to had over his car keys despite being stabbed in the eyebrow.
“Clark went to the car door. Mr Chapman was sitting in it. He refused to get out despite suffering an injury from the knife to his eyebrow,” Mr Straw added
Other members of the public including a retired police officer helped detain Clark as he ran up Aswell Street. The knife and a number of jewellery boxes were found nearby.
London fled up Aswell Street to the nearby Kidgate Primary Academy where he dumped his yellow motorcycle helmet after being confronted by deputy Paul Lidbury.
Mr Straw told the court: “He was told to leave the school by the teacher who alerted the police and was caught as he tried to meet up with an associate who he had asked to drive to Louth to pick him up.”
Mr Lidbury told how his main concern when he confronted the robber in the school grounds was the safety of the 400 children there.
“I told him he should not be in our school,” Mr Lidbury said. “All he said was that the police were after him.”
The court heard London and Clark were serial criminals who carried out the robbery after travelling 20 miles across the Wolds from their homes in Grimsby.
Clark, who had previously served jailed sentences for wounding and arson, admitted the robbery which occurred on 24 June and unlawfully wounding Mr Chapman.
He also asked for a crime spree of 17 other offences to be taken in to consideration, which included a dozen burglaries.
Sentencing Clark, of Littlecoates, Grimsby, to an extended sentence of nine and half years Judge Sean Morris said that he regarded him as “dangerous.”
Clark was sentenced to six years imprisonment with three and half years extended licence.
London, of Watford Avenue, Grimsby, who pleaded guilty to the robbery and also asked for 12 other offences to be taken in to consideration, was jailed for four years.
Judge Morris told them both: “When you forced that lady to open the door the good citizens of Lincolnshire had disabled your getaway vehicle, your motorbike, so you had to make a run for it.
“You were chased by those people and what you did, Clarke, was then stab a man in the head. He was an elderly gentleman sitting in his car.
“You opened the door and tried to drag him off, but he was made of stern stuff and did not budge.”
Mr Lidbury and Mr Chapman were among a list of members of the public who were thanked by the police for their actions.
In a statement Mr Chapman said: “I was not going to let him take my car so I didn’t move. As he brought his right arm up I saw the knife, and then he stabbed me in the right side of my right eye.
“If people had not got involved in trying to stop them I think things could have been much worse.”
Mrs Smith, whose husband Roger was having a cigarette break when the raiders came in, added: “I could see they were smashing the cabinet tops and I heard the bangs. I can remember screaming and shouting at them.
“I constantly relive what happened and have visions of seeing the two helmets in the shop.”
The robbery in broad daylight led to road blocks on all the roads out of Louth and the Humberside Police helicopter hovered over the town for a couple of hours.