Glasgow & West Scotland

Argyll Arcade jewel heist robbers jailed

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Media captionCCTV of the three men carrying out the £230,000 daylight jewellery raid at the Argyll Arcade in Glasgow last year.

A gang of armed robbers who carried out a £230,000 daylight jewellery raid in Glasgow last year have been jailed.

Jason Yendall, 29, Aaron Brannan, 24, and Jason Britton, 23, stole 21 high-value watches from Rox in the Argyll Arcade on 24 September 2014.

They were caught when two friends, Alistair Oliver, 30 and Gordon McLay, 32, were seen wearing stolen watches.

All five also admitted being involved in a £20,000 bank robbery in Edinburgh on 2 October.

Image copyright BBC - police handout
Image caption Jason Yendall, Aaron Brannan and Jason Britton carried out the Argyll Arcade raid in daylight

Yendall was sentenced to 12 years and nine months at the High Court in Glasgow while Brannan was jailed for 10 and a half years and Britton to five years and 10 months.

All three had earlier pled guilty to being involved in both raids.

'Career criminals'

Oliver was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years and McLay to six years. They admitted being involved in the bank robbery as well as resetting two watches taken from the Argyll Arcade.

Passing sentence, the judge said: "This behaviour can truly be described as serious and organised criminal conduct.

"This involved planning, determination and the calculated use of violence.

"Some of you are career criminals to which such conduct comes easily."

Image copyright BBC - police handout
Image caption Gordon McLay and Alistair Oliver were convicted, along with the other three, over a robbery in Edinburgh

During the trial, the High Court in Glasgow heard Yendall, Brannan and Britton were all friends from Manchester while Oliver and McLay knew each other from living in Wallyford, East Lothian.

In the run-up to both robberies, vehicles and registration plates had been stolen in Scotland and England.

On 23 September - the day before the Argyll Arcade raid - Yendall, Brannan and Britton carried out a "dry run" of the route to and from the scene.

The next morning, the trio along with two unknown associates travelled from Edinburgh and targeted the arcade, which houses more than 30 jewellers and diamond merchants.

Sledgehammer and axe

During the trial, Prosecutor Sheena Fraser told the court: "Four of the men got out of the car - two carrying baseball bats, one a sledgehammer and one an axe.

"One of them was also carrying a holdall. The driver remained within the car.

"The Crown cannot say which of the men was the driver and which four attended at the arcade."

The armed robbers - also wearing balaclavas and gloves - sprinted down Buchanan Street into the busy mall at about 13:00.

They immediately targeted Rox jewellery store which had expensive Hublot watches as well as Bell and Ross time-pieces.

As some of the gang took turns to keep a look-out, others raced inside and smashed a window display.

Four minutes

Terrified staff and customers looked on as 21 high-end watches were snatched and tossed into bags.

Ms Fraser said: "While this was happening, members of the group in the arcade were shouting and banging on other shop windows.

Some shoppers captured the incident on their mobile phones.

Just under four minutes after arriving, the gang fled with the stolen watches, shouting threats as they left.

Image copyright Liam Dargie
Image caption The masked raiders fled via the Buchanan Street entrance past stunned shoppers

They jumped into a getaway vehicle before eventually heading on the M8 towards Edinburgh.

Oliver and McLay were later seen in a bookmakers in Wallyford, each wearing £2,750 watches taken from the Argyll Arcade.

The Argyll Arcade was left with a £20,000 repair bill.

The court heard that all of the gang already had a criminal past.

Yendall was on early release from a five-year jail term in 2012 for another robbery.