Harpenden jewellery store robbers jailed

Loveweds Jewellers on the High Street, Harpenden

Loveweds Jewellers on the High Street, Harpenden - Credit: Archant

THE owner of a Harpenden jewellery shop which had more than £65,000 worth of rings and Rolex watches stolen after the manager was covered with a hood and kidnapped has spoken of his relief at the robbers being jailed.

Three men from Hertfordshire were sentenced last Friday to a total of 17 years in prison at St Albans Crown Court after pleading guilty to a robbery and kidnap at Loveweds Jewellers in the High Street on Wednesday, March 20, this year.

Jamie Kalaiarasu, Ashley Latimer-Bassill and Daniel Stanley stole tens of thousands of pounds worth of jewellery in the raid at Loveweds.

The robbers made off with an assortment of jewellery from the Harpenden store, following a scam based on a bogus wedding.

Kalaiarasu posed as a customer named “Jay” to ensure the jewellery was in stock before he and co-defendants Latimer-Bassill and Stanley kidnapped and robbed the manager.

As part of their plan, they forced the manager into a car and later to hand over his shop keys to gain access to the goods.

Judge Stephen Gullick sentenced both Kalaiarasu, 22, of Archer Road, Stevenage, and Latimer-Bassill, 24, of Crane Mead, Ware, to six years in prison. Stanley, 24, of Travellers Lane in Hatfield, was given a five-year jail term.

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All pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob Michael Barres.

Prosecutor David Chrimes said Loveweds had a single showroom where customers could view replica items of jewellery before they were ordered from Hatton Garden in London and sent to the shop, where they were kept in the safe.

He added: “Jay visited the shop a number of times, building up a rapport with Mr Barres. They spoke seven or eight times in the 10 days before the robbery.

“Jay told Mr Barres he was having a very expensive wedding and wanted to order some expensive jewellery – rings for his wife and the bridesmaids and Rolex watches for the groom and the men involved.”

On March 20, Mr Barres locked up the shop and it was then that he was kidnapped by Latimer-Bassill and Stanley.

A hood, similar to a pillow case, was placed over his head and his hands were tied with duct tape. He was warned by the robbers that they had a gun.

For Kalaiarasu, Patrick Dorian said his client was genuinely remorseful and had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

At the time of the offence he was working as a chef in a care home where he had met the other two defendants.

Alison Morgan for Latimer-Basill and Stanley asked for credit for their guilty pleas at the first opportunity, saying the robbery was “not sophisticated”.

Judge Stephen Gullick told the men: “No doubt Mr Barres was terrified by these events.”

He said the robbery had been pre-planned and the victim had been alone in the shop and vulnerable.

The owner of the store, who did not want to be named, thanked sympathetic residents who had supported the manager’s return to work with gifts of chocolate and flowers.

He said he understood that the families of the trio were “ashamed” of their action, and that it was possible the men “did not realise the impact of what they have done”.

The owner added: “I have to say I’m pleased we have got a result as sometimes people don’t get caught. These were young people – a man with a plan and two fools – who had a crack at a robbery and are paying the price.”