Machete-wielding robbers who dressed in burkas to steal from Aldi and £100,000 of jewellery in raids are caged
ARMED robbers who dressed up in burkas to carry out a string of terrifying raids have been caged for a total of 87 years.
The men hid their faces and weapons under the dark cloaks to disguise themselves as Muslim women as they stole thousands of pounds from superstores and jewellers.
They stormed into an Aldi store in Bolton, Greater Manchester, and stole £76,000 as shocked staff were cashing up.
Hero shopper Mark Cooper, 32, a former soldier, tried to stop one of the men escaping but was struck on the leg with a machete, leaving him scarred for life.
He said the incident was ”one of the scariest moments in his life.”
The burka-clad yobs also snatched gems worth £104,000 from Punjab Jewellers in Rusholme, Manchester, after threatening staff with axes and machetes.
The family-run business was forced to close down soon after as the victims were too frightened to continue working there.
At Manchester Crown Court, members of the gang all pleaded guilty to robbery and were jailed on Friday.
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Christopher Ryder, 31, of Withington, Manchester, got 22 years, Michael Gabriel, 30, from Chorlton, Manchester, got 21 years, Nicholas Fox, 26, from Blackley, Manchester, got 18 and a half years, Nyron Brown, 29, of Newton Heath, Manchester, got 16 years and Caine Williams, 26, got ten years.
The court heard the robberies took place in 2015 and the gang used used stolen vehicles with false number plates.
The gang were also linked to a raid at an Aldi store in Fallowfield, Manchester, where £78,000 was stolen. They also held up One Stop Shops in nearby Sale Moor and Northern Moor including threatening a lone female staff member.
Ryder had 28 previous offences on his record including conspiracy to rob in 2002 for which he was jailed for nine years and then conspiracy to rob in 2008 when got six years.
Gabriel had 25 previous offences on his record including cocaine and heroin dealing in 2008 and conspiracy to rob in 2009 for which he got four years jail.
Brown had been locked up for cannabis production while Fox previously got four years for conspiracy to rob in 2010. Williams had 23 offences, on his record.
Sentencing, Judge Tony Cross QC said: “These robberies were designed to strike fear in the hearts and minds of the victims. All of your victims will be affected by what they experienced and some suffered physical and psychological harm.”
At an earlier date, the following men were sentenced for robbery offences.
Christian Edwards, of Manchester, was jailed for 12 years.
Paul Smith, of Ashton-under-Lyne, was jailed for 10 years.
Gary Sullivan, of Northern Moor, was jailed for five years.
Sean Heyes, of Leaford Avenue, Denton, was jailed for five years, while a 33-year-old man was also sentenced to 12 years and eight months.
Paul Smith was also handed 10 years in prison[/caption]
Detective Constable Matthew Whittaker, of GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Team, said: “We can finally say these men are off the streets of Greater Manchester and unable to cause any more damage or detriment to the community for their own selfish gratification.
“We will continue to dismantle organised crime groups and make it impossible for those who make a living from committing crimes to operate, no matter how versed in police tactics they believe themselves to be.
“Thanks to information from people in the community and our partners, we can make sure we are one step ahead of criminals like these and bring them to justice.”
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