A violent, armed gang of robbers have been jailed after using Islamic burqas to hide their identities as they stole hundreds of thousands of pounds in raids across Manchester.
Over a twelve-month period from June 2015, they stole £206,000 worth of gems and £76,000 from an Aldi supermarket, where they attacked a member of the public with a machete.
The judge has said brave shopper, Mark Cooper, should receive a reward after tripping and attempting to apprehend one robber at the Aldi raid in Bolton.
According to The Times, Martin Reid, for the prosecution, explained how Mr. Cooper had “heard screaming and shouting and saw a man in a burka running away from the supermarket towards him.
“Mr. Cooper quickly realised what was happening and started running after him and tripped the male up. The male fell to the floor, face down and Mr. Cooper jumped on his back and struggled with him. Two other men, both wearing burkas, then ran towards them carrying machetes.
“One of the males hit Mr. Cooper on the left shin with the blade of the machete and shouted ‘F*cking let him go’. ”
The two leaders of the gang, Christopher Ryder, 30, of Timperley, and Michael Gabriel, 30, of Wythenshawe, received 22 and 21 years in jail. In total, the gang of five received 87 years’ imprisonment.
Judge Tony Cross, QC, said: “These robberies were designed to strike fear in the hearts and minds of the victims. All of your victims will be affected by what they experienced and some suffered physical and psychological harm.
“This was offending which was carefully planned. In the case of the Aldi robberies you knew that significant amounts of money would have been on the premises and you knew full well that when you struck there would be members of the public present in the shops, some with young children…
“In each case your gang armed yourselves with weapons, and the carrying of a machete was designed not only to strike fear, they were savage weapons which could have been used quickly to inflict serious injury so as to secure your escape.
“The injury inflicted on Mark Cooper was serious and had the blow hit an artery he might well have died.”