A GANG member involved in a highly sophisticated raid on a Southport jewellers in March this year has put behind bars.
John Bishop, 33, of Ronald Street, Old Swan, was one of six men who roared up to Rebecca’s Jewellers, on Lord Street, on three motorbikes equipped with tools, including an angle grinder, to cut through the metal shutters and plate glass window.
After the audacious raid, watched by amazed passers-by, five of the gang, including Bishop, escaped on two of the motor bikes while the sixth man Steven Mallon was unable to catch up and fled on foot.
Mallon was caught after a chase by police officers and was jailed last month.
Bishop was later identified as he left behind a glove on which forensic scientists found his DNA, said Kirsty Linforth.
Liverpool Crown Court heard on Friday, June 24 that Bishop had attended St Anne Street police station on May 26 and was arrested for the burglary. He was jailed for three years and eight months.
Miss Linforth had told the court that the raid at Rebecca's jewellers took place on the evening of March 21 this year when the six men dressed in black and wearing helmets rode up to their target premises.
They then used the tools to break in and grabbed jewellery before speeding away. Police were quickly on the scene but only Mallon, who had been struck by a small SUV as he fled, was caught and arrested at that time.
Jailing Bishop, who has 31 previous convictions for 55 offences, the judge Recorder Kendrick Horne said, “You were part of a gang which took part in a sophisticated jewellery heist in Southport.”
He said that a conservative estimate for the value of goods taken and damage caused was £40,000.
Bishop’s lawyer Frank Dillon said that the defendant’s role had been as a look out.
But the judge pointed out that his DNA had been discovered on a glove which was not normally an item required for such a role and said he found Bishop was prepared to participate in another role if required.
Recorder Horne pointed out that only three weeks earlier Bishop had been given a community order for an attempted burglary.
Mr Dillon said that the valuation evidence was scant but accepted that “a gang in disguise who turn up at night at a jewellers shop with whizzies and other tools to break through the shutters and a plate glass window are not there for a bag of sweets. It was intended to be a high value burglary, whatever the fruits were.”
He said they were forensically aware and had their clothes taped apart from Bishop who was there to be the look out.
“He was financially in dire straits, unemployed and not on benefits and had recently suffered the bereavement of his grandfather and a friend.
“He regretted entering the enterprise after being offered £1,500 to get involved.”
Mr Dillon said that the defendant “had background issues of drink and drug dependency which reared their heads again because of the bereavements.”
At Mallon’s sentencing the court heard that the shop owner had stated that the stolen jewellery was worth £80,000 though no documentation was provided to confirm the loss.
Mallon, of Brierfield Road, Atherton, who also admitted the burglary, was jailed for two years eight months.