A BUNGLING gang of armed raiders, whose attempted heist of a jewellery store in Northampton was foiled by a handbag-wielding ‘Supergran’, have received jail sentences of more than 26 years.
Retired market trader Ann Timson, 71, was hailed as a “handbag-wielding heroine” after tackling the gang who were armed with sledgehammers as they tried to smash the windows of Michael Jones Jewellers in Northampton town centre in February.
Northampton Crown Court heard yesterday how the raiders, who used two scooters and a motorbike, fled the scene in panic after the red-haired pensioner lashed out with her large black handbag, earning her worldwide fame.
Judge Charles Wide QC joined in the chorus of praise for the “redoubtable” Mrs Timson as he recommended her and five others for bravery awards.
Edward Smith, 28, and Michael Sharpe, 40, who were thought to be the ring leaders, were each jailed for six years and eight months, while Patrick Spencer-O’Brien, 18, was sentenced to five years’ detention.
Jason Hartles, 25, and Terry Ingles, 22, were jailed for four years each.
The gang, all from north London, were arrested as footage of the raid and Mrs Timson’s actions made headlines around the world.
Alastair Smith, prosecuting, said: “This is now a well-documented and well-known attack upon Michael Jones jewellers in Northampton involving defendants arriving on scooters and high-powered motorbikes in order to escape, wielding sledgehammers in order to gain access to the jewellery in the premises.”
Despite the gang’s luck running out, one masked raider is still being hunted, as is £111,000 of stolen Rolex and Cartier watches which have never been traced.
He added: “If the defendant’s luck ran out that day, then there’s no better demonstration of that than when Mrs Timson intervened.”
Judge Wide said: “This is more serious than a ram raid as it was for high-value goods, in a highly, highly sophisticated, planned, organised criminal enterprise. This was a meticulously, professionally planned crime. It was not just a matter of bashing holes in a window.
“The fact of the matter is it worked and more than £111,000 of jewellery was taken and someone is enjoying the proceeds of that crime.
“It’s absolutely plain that it was carefully timed so the attack could take place when the items were all in the window.”
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Kinchin said: “This was an organised gang of London criminals who wrongly believed they could travel to Northampton specifically to commit a smash and grab. The sentencing sends out a clear message to criminals that this county is a hostile place for you.
“Those who travel to our county to commit crime will be caught and dealt with.”