Leeds & West Yorkshire

Armed gang jailed for Leeds pub robberies

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Media captionCCTV footage captures robbers brandishing a meat cleaver during a raid on Gusto Italian restaurant in Cookridge, Leeds.

A gang of robbers behind a string of armed raids on pubs and restaurants across Leeds have been jailed.

Thomas Silverwood, 19, Michael Bennett, 39, Darren Phelan, 37, Jermaine Wilkes, 40, Daniel Lyons and Liam O'Neil, both 21, struck six times in one month.

During one robbery an eight-year-old boy was threatened with a metal bar.

The six men, all from Leeds, were sentenced at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robberies.

They were jailed for between 12 years and four years and three months.


Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption The gang carried out six robberies and three attempted robberies. Top row left to right: Thomas Silverwood, Darren Phelan, Michael Bennett. Bottom row left to right: Jermaine Wilkes, Daniel Lyons, Liam O'Neil.

Thomas Silverwood, of Bowood Avenue, Leeds - 12 years

Darren Phelan, of Carrholm Road, Leeds - 11 years and 10 months. Phelan was told he would have to serve an extended licence period of three years and two months

Michael Bennett, of Reginald Mount, Leeds - four years and three months

Jermaine Wilkes, 39, No Fixed Address - eight years

Daniel Lyons, 21, Sholebrooke Street, Leeds - four years and nine months

Liam O'Neil, 21, Sholebroke View, Leeds - eight years

The first robbery took place at The Bridge Inn, Horsforth, on 5 August, when three masked men armed with knives threatened staff and customers before fleeing with more than £1,500.

The gang struck again on 16 August at the Myrtle Tavern, in Meanwood, stealing £2,000, before targeting The Dalesman, in West Park, nine days later.

During the robbery the landlady and two friends were threatened with a machete and a hammer.

Image copyright West Yorkshire Police
Image caption A robber is seen raising a metal bar towards a young boy (bottom right) during a raid in Armley

On 19 August the robbers burst in to the Travellers Rest, in Armley, and threatened the manager with a knife before hitting him over the head with a metal bar.

An eight-year-old boy present during the robbery was threatened with a metal bar.

On 26 August the gang raided The Angel Inn, in Rothwell. One of the men held a knife to the landlord's throat as others stole more than £12,000.

'Unnecessary violence'

The final robbery took place at Gusto Italian restaurant, in Cookridge, when the gang threatened to chop off the arm of a member of staff, before escaping with a watch.

Det Insp John Dexter said: "These men were responsible for an absolutely terrifying series of robberies which took place over a short time span and left a large number of victims very badly traumatised.

"The victims were confronted by intimidating masked figures armed with a frightening array of weapons that they had deliberately chosen to put fear into them.

"On a number of occasions they didn't hesitate to back up their threats with violence which was completely unnecessary."

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