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Jail for toy-gun raiders

PUBLISHED: 12:44 05 February 2002 | UPDATED: 15:25 03 March 2010

TWO men who between them carried out a number of raids at small shops, threatening cashiers with replica handguns, are starting jail terms today totalling 12-and-a-half years.

TWO men who between them carried out a number of raids at small shops, threatening cashiers with replica handguns, are starting jail terms today totalling 12-and-a-half years.

Jamie Campbell, 24, of Combs, near Stowmarket, and Aquila Griffin-Weekes , 41, of Old Foundry Road, Ipswich, were sentenced at Bury St Edmunds Crown Court.

Campbell pleaded guilty to carrying out armed robberies in Stowmarket and Ipswich in July last year, and the attempted robbery of a shop in Needham Market in August.

Griffin-Weekes admitted one charge of attempted robbery in Needham Market.

Sentencing the pair yesterday, Judge Nicholas Beddard said the sentences would "protect the public and deter others from treating small retail shops as easy targets".

He added: "People who work alone in such premises deserve the support and protection of the courts."

The first robbery took place at the Crown Street Post Office, in Stowmarket, on July 13.

Samantha Leigh, prosecuting, said Campbell was one of two armed raiders who burst into the shop wearing balaclavas and brandishing a handgun. The two demanded the money from the till and made off with around £400.

Campbell then struck at a service station shop, in Bramford Lane, Ipswich, just a few days later.

This time he went in alone, again brandishing an imitation handgun, and threatened the cashier before getting away with around £200 cash and £100 of cigarettes.

Arrested and interviewed by police, Campbell was released on police bail and within days attempted to rob Alldays Newsagents, in Barking Road, Needham Market.

The store was raided on August 1, at about 11.30am, after Campbell had met up with Griffin-Weekes.

The pair shoplifted a toy gun and knife from a toy shop in Stowmarket and used them in the robbery.

Despite Campbell, armed with the gun, jumping over the counter, and both men demanding the key to the till, the pair left empty-handed.

Judge Nicholas Beddard described Campbell as "a dangerous young man".

He sentenced him to five years for each of the robberies, to be served concurrently, and four years consecutively for the attempted robbery – making a total of nine years.

Griffin-Weekes received three-and-a-half years in prison for attempted robbery.

Rosemary Burns, mitigating for Campbell, said that at the time of the robberies he needed money as he was only working part-time.

"He was an emotional mess. He didn't touch or harm anyone and only used an imitation firearm," she said.

She added that British-born Campbell has contacted officials in America, where his father lives, about being transferred to serve his sentence there.

"He realises the trauma of the victims which will stay with them. He accepts his responsibility and is very serious."

Steven Dyble, for Griffin-Weekes, said: "He is guilty of robbery but was not guilty of planning it and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity."

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