An armed gang of men who robbed approximately one million pounds worth of jewellery from a Truro jewellers have been sentenced to a total of 64 years and one month in jail after the largest armed robbery Devon and Cornwall Police have ever seen.
Five members of an international organised crime group were today, Friday 19 July, sentenced at Truro Crown Court for their part in the armed robbery which happened on Wednesday 10 January 2018. Two offenders were sentenced yesterday, Thursday 19 July.
Four masked men entered Michael Spiers Jewellers in Lemon Street, Truro, armed with an imitation hand gun, crowbars and a canister capable of dispelling a noxious substance which was confirmed as pepper spray.
The court heard how the men entered the store, threatened staff with an imitation gun [pictured] and sprayed a member of the public and staff with pepper spray, thankfully not causing any lasting injury.
The men stole high-end jewellery such as Rolex watches, diamonds and jewels [pictured] to an estimated value of approximately one million pounds and left the scene in getaway cars resulting in a man hunt. Armed response teams, specialist dog units, detectives and the local policing team along with specialist teams from the Information Intelligence Management Unit were deployed to assist.
Evidence was shown at court which showed Roger Slekaitis entering the UK at Bristol Airport having flown in from Lithuania on the evening of Monday 8 January 2018. On Tuesday 9 January, Lithuanians Haroldas Ivanovas and Tomas Bakierskis were both passengers on a flight which arrived at Bristol airport from Amsterdam, their tickets were booked together under the same booking reference.
The pair arrived with tickets they had booked together and made contact with a man who arranged to pick them up. This man was identified as Andrew Buinevicius.
On the day of the robbery, four men entered the foyer of a hotel in Truro, they were Haroldas Ivanovas, Rogertas Slevaitas, Saulius Mickus and Tomas Bakierskis. They prepared for the robbery by covering their faces and hands.
At around 9.50pm on Wednesday 10 January the four masked men entered Michael Spiers Jewellers, the first man was brandishing a handgun and pointed this at members of staff repeatedly telling them to “Get Down”.
Two of the gang members were in possession of Pepper Spray and used this against the store manager and one of the customers inside the store. They were well rehearsed each having a clearly defined role within the jewellers.
Whilst inside, display cabinets are forced open with the contents of the displays and cabinets stripped of high value watches and jewellery, valued at around one million pounds.
The gang ransacked the jewellers, remaining inside for two minutes.
Once the robbery was complete, all four men ran back out of the store towards their getaway vehicle parked further down Lemon Street, followed by members of the public in pursuit. The offenders evaded capture and drove off.
Two of the offenders were identified getting on the train at St Austell and heading to Bristol where they were subsequently both arrested in possession of Pepper Spray.
In total seven Lithuanian men and a man from Latvia were arrested for the biggest armed robbery in Devon and Cornwall history.
Five defendants appeared at Truro Crown Court for the trial which commenced on Monday 9 July.
Tomas Bakierskis, aged 24 from Lithuania, pleaded guilty to robbery and guilty to possession of firearm with intent and was sentenced to nine and a half years.
Andrius Buenvicius, aged 41 from Lithuania, pleaded not guilty to possession of firearm with intent and not guilty to conspiracy to rob and was found guilty for both and sentenced to 16 years.
Rogertas Slekatis, aged 25 from Lithuania, pleaded guilty to robbery and not guilty to possession of firearm with intent but was found guilty of both and sentenced to nine and a half years.
Gytis Inokaitis, aged 36 of Stuart Road in Plymouth, was found guilty to Conspiracy to Rob and was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Agris Davidonis, aged 30 of Petroc Court in Gunnislake, pleaded guilty to Perverting the Course of Justice and sentenced to 21 months in prison.
Haroldas Ivanovas, aged 20 from Lithuania, pleaded guilty to robbery and to possession of a firearm with intent and was sentenced to seven years.
Salius Mickus, aged 28 from Lithuania, pleaded guilty to robbery and to possession of a firearm with intent and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Harijus Jackiaskas, aged 33 from Partington Lane in Manchester, was found not guilty to assisting an offender but was sentenced to three months, which he has already served on remand, for breaching a deportation order and will be deported back to Lithuania.
All of the individuals will now be subject to deportation orders from the Home Office.
Officers from Cornwall CID pieced together hours of CCTV and forensic evidence together with eyewitness accounts which led to the identification of those involved in the incident.
The gang, who were part of an international organised crime group originating from Lithuania, had set their sights on the Cornish city assuming it to be a soft target, however, this proved not to be the case as officers from Devon and Cornwall Police closed in on them.
Senior Investigating Officer Detective Inspector Pete Found said: “This was a very dynamic and challenging investigation into what transpired to be an international organised criminal gang who deliberately targeted Truro in what was a well-planned raid.
“The weapons and violence used in the commission of the offence are obviously concerning but I hope that the public are reassured that whilst in Devon and Cornwall these crimes are rare, if they should occur then we have the necessary skills and resources, with the support of law enforcement colleagues both across the country and internationally, to identify those involved and successfully bring them to justice.
“This has been one of the largest armed robberies we have ever seen. The offenders took around one million pounds worth of jewellery, of which we have yet to locate.
“The impact a robbery of this nature can have on a victim is huge and I hope that today’s sentence can bring about some sense that justice has been served.
“I would like to add my thanks to members of the public who have supported the investigation and who continue to make Cornwall one of the safest places in the country in which to live.”
Source:: Devon and Cornwall Police News