Perry Eustace (top left), Reece Corr (top right), Chuma Gumede (bottom left) and Laurence McLaughlin (bottom right)
A judge has praised the courageous actions of the Windsor community for helping to bring a gang of blundering criminals who tried to ransack a jewellers in the town to justice.
The gang of four men were handed more than 30 years behind bars between them during a sentencing at Reading Crown Court today (Friday) following their botched daylight heist of Robert Gatward Jewellers on September 8.
Sentencing, Judge Paul Dugdale told the court that he had the public to thank for stopping three of the gang from escaping from the scene of the crime.
He told the defendants: “That day on September 8 last year, a number of members of the community that you live with were out and about and they were faced with a problem.
“They didn’t stand by, they stood up and decided that in their community your behaviour is not acceptable.”
The court heard how at about 10am, the gang rolled up at the King Edward Court jewellers on motorbikes and mopeds and tried to smash their way through to more than half a million pounds worth of Rolex watches using sledgehammers and an axe.
One of the gang, 26-year-old Perry Eustace, brandished a knife during the attempted raid to warn the public off, the court was told.
But their attempts to break through the glass largely failed and they were confronted by shop assistant Nicholas Elliott and manager Gary Reeves who chased them off with a plank of wood.
CCTV then showed members of the public pulling the criminals off their mopeds near Peascod Street in a united display of community spirit.
One of the brave members of the public, Mark Morley, sustained a one centimetre stab wound to the shoulder as he tried to apprehend one of the attackers.
Judge Dugdale added: “This kind of attack on a relatively small business has a seriously detrimental effect and the court has to stand up for small businesses.”
Perry Eustace, 26, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to nine years in prison for attempted robbery, possession of an offensive weapon and unlawful wounding.
Reece Corr, 20, of Long Furlong Drive, Slough, and Laurence McLaughlin, 26, of Badger Close, Maidenhead, will both serve eight years for attempted robbery.
Chuma Gumede, 26, of Doddsfield Road, Slough, who fled the crime scene, will serve seven and a half years for attempted robbery.
Defending McLaughlin and Corr, Lawrence Henderson told the court: “It could have been a lot worse.
“It’s four desperate individuals rolling up to a jewellers to ‘have a go’ and failing miserably.”
The botched robbery is estimated to have cost the jewellers £69,000 in missed profits and repairs.
Judge Dugdale praised members of the public including Nicholas Elliott, Mark Morley, Kris Mayo, Gary Reeves, Daniel Keogh, Kerrin Walker, Mark Payne, Kristen Prier, Ruth Bruce and Gillian Moran for their heroic actions.
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