Desperate Portsmouth robber threatened jewellery store staff with 'gun'

A THIEF who threatened jewellery store staff has been jailed after striking three times in one day and telling shocked workers: ‘I’ve got a gun.’

Monday, 27th April 2020, 3:15 pm
Updated Monday, 27th April 2020, 7:35 pm

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Aaron Smith left a new shop assistant upset after asking to see a 20in gold chain worth £499 as he wanted to buy it ‘for his little brother’.

Instead he fled with it when she handed it over at around 11.45am. Smith, 35, returned twice to The Gold Centre in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, on March 9.

When he came back in at 3.15pm he leapt over a counter and started grabbing gold chains and earrings before jumping back over and running away.

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Robbery at Gold Centre, Commercial Road, Portsmouth on March 9 2020.

As the shop assistant called 999 and a manager ran after Smith he returned and again leapt over the counter taking more items.

Security from another shop arrived and together with the store manager stopped him in his tracks as ‘shouting and commotion’ filled the area.

Furious Smith - who was high on drugs and had repeatedly fallen over in the thefts - shouted: ‘I’ve got a gun and I will kill you.’

When he tried to flee again he was tripped over, reached for his waistband and blasted: ‘Give me my gold chain, I’ve got a knife - I’m going to stab you.’

Portsmouth Crown Court. Picture: César Moreno Huerta

Video of the incident shot by a passer-by shows Smith on the ground having been restrained in a struggle.

In a statement the shop assistant told police: ‘I’ve never been so scared in my entire life. I’m really worried about going back to work.’

All but the first gold chain was recovered. Smith, of no fixed address, had no weapons on him.

Smith, who has 124 past offences, had amassed a drug debt and was driven ‘into desperation,’ his barrister said. He has a previous diagnosis of schizophrenia.

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Jailing him for 44 months, judge Timothy Mousley QC said: ‘Whilst your stealing from the jeweller’s shop was unsophisticated, it must have been extremely frightening for the staff.’

The judge added: ‘It must have been a shocking experience for her to have that done where she was working on one occasion... it would have made her feel extremely unsafe.’

Smith, who the judge said had serious mental health issues, admitted robbery and theft.