MASKED robbers stole jewellery worth nearly £150,000 from a terrified woman after attacking her on a school run.
They then crashed their getaway car into another vehicle, having to abandon it, before forcing another driver, an off-duty policeman to hand over his keys and taking his car, Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday.
The gang struck outside the fee-paying Moorlands School in Foxhill Drive, Weetwood, Leeds, as parents were arriving to collect children on the afternoon of October 11 last year.
Louise Pryke, prosecuting, said one woman saw another parent waiting in her Range Rover and got out to speak to her.
But as she approached she paused when she saw the woman was on her mobile phone and as she did so she suddenly felt a blow to her head as she was attacked.
A gloved hand was put over her mouth and she heard a voice say “Give me your f...ing rings.”
When she told him she did not have any, she was pushed to the side by her attacker who was wearing a balaclava, and who then got into the passenger seat of the Range Rover and threatened the mother inside.
She described later how he put his face right up to hers and demanded her rings taking one of her hands and trying to pull them off, moving to the other hand when he did not succeed.
He then produced a claw hammer and held it up to her face still trying to squeeze her rings off with the other hand and threatening to break her fingers.
She told him if he calmed down she would take them off herself and handed over her diamond rings, one worth £10,000 and the other £124,000. He also took her £15,000 Rolex watch, her iPhone worth £400, her £500 designer bag and £300 cash inside.
She was aware there was a second man nearby, also wearing a balaclava, and the pair then ran to a waiting Volvo car containing a third masked man.
That set off down Foxhill Drive but crashed into a Ford Focus driven by another mother on her way to the preparatory school to pick up her children.
They had to abandon their getaway car and an off duty policeman, Thomas Powell, saw the three masked man running towards him. They demanded the keys to his Seat Ibiza and in the circumstances eventually he handed them over and the robbers drove off.
But the court heard one of the raiders was traced because when the Volvo crashed the airbags were deployed and the saliva containing Anthony Clarke’s DNA was found on the one on the passenger seat.
He had 29 previous appearances for 62 offences.
Clarke, 39, of Hemingway Garth, Hunslet, Leeds was jailed for eight years after admitting robbery of the jewellery and blackmail of Mr Powell by making unwarranted demands with menaces to get his car.
Sentencing him, Judge James Spencer, QC, said they were serious offences and it was a reasonable conclusion from his record that he was “a career criminal”.
That day he had joined with two others and had clearly planned to rob women when they were vulnerable collecting their children from school.
After getting nothing from the first woman the second was attacked in her car until she handed over her jewellery.
“It was a most audacious robbery in a different category to any so-called mugging.”
The judge said that was not the end of it since Clarke was in the getaway car when it crashed and they went on to take the car of a passer-by.
Richard Reed for Clarke said he agreed to join in when he needed money after losing his job and was meant to be paid £500 but never got his share. He had written a letter of apology to the robbery victim.