A CROOK has been convicted of involvement in a violent Carlisle jewellery shop robbery, and jailed for eight years.
Craig Carruthers, whose Bank Street store, St Nicholas Galleries had been targeted earlier in 2019, was punched in the face and suffered a broken nose when a masked robber entered at around 2-20pm on June 6 and vaulted over a counter.
But despite being dazed and bleeding, Mr Carruthers bravely used a pair of step ladders to strike the intruder as he grabbed loot. Desperate to protect his staff, two customers and stock, the owner shepherded one female employee out of the firing line, saying: “I will sort this.” That robber left the store after a masked accomplice entered the shop and beckoned him away while armed with a small fire extinguisher which one employee feared may contain acid.
Both robbers fled in a getaway Ford Fiesta previously stolen by 32-year-old Daniel Burtak and driven 100 miles to Cumbria in convoy with an Audi A3, driven by a pal. Both vehicles – fitted with false numberplates – were captured driving around the city centre minutes before the robbery in what Carlisle Crown Court heard was a “reconnaissance” mission.
Burtak and his friend were arrested while travelling south in the Audi on the M6 later that afternoon. Most of the £25,000 jewellery haul was recovered, but the effect on Mr Carruthers and his staff was immense, two employees having since left the store. “Both have told me that they cannot continue to work here due to the robberies,” the owner said in a statement. “They do not feel safe at work and kept having nightmares about what happened.”
Bolton-born Burtak, of no fixed abode, was convicted, unanimously, of robbery following a jury trial. Ashley Entwistle, 36, of Athlone Avenue, Bolton, was acquitted of the robbery charge he jointly faced and had denied.
Heavily-convicted Burtak was jailed in 2007 for a role in the armed smash-and-grab robbery of a Bolton jewellery store, and locked up again in 2016 for his part in the burglary of a Penrith food wholesaler.
Sentencing Burtak for the Carlisle crime, Judge Julie Clemitson concluded it was he who attacked Mr Carruthers and stole his stock. “The robbery, I am sure, must have been terrifying for those involved,” said the judge. “The impact that the offence has had on all of the people involved that day has been significant.”
Detective Constable Stephen Kidd said: “Firstly, I would like to praise both the brave shop staff and the courageous members of the public who worked to thwart this robbery.
“From the staff members who struck out at the robbers and sounded the alarm despite threats not to do so to the members of the public who attempted to stop the man escaping – including one who tried to take the key from the ignition. Their actions reflect well on the city as a whole and send the message that criminality will not be tolerated.
“I would also like to thank the officers who reacted swiftly to this incident, quickly identified the vehicles involved and had Burtak in custody with strong evidence of his guilt in a very short space of time.
“The police also welcomes the sentence handed down by the court today and hope this will serve as a strong deterrent.”