A 'very dangerous man' has been jailed after carrying out a £441,640 armed robbery on a Northallerton jewellers.
38-year-old Victor Okumu from Lazenby, near Middlesbrough, has been jailed for ten years and six months after pleading guilty to the robbery at Bradleys The Jewellers on Market Row in Northallerton on 11 March 2019.
Just after 10am, Okumu entered the jewellers wearing a blue boiler suit and crash helmet with the visor down.
Armed with a blue L-shaped object, which he used to wedge the door open, he pushed a cardboard-type box into a staff member before jumping over the counter.
During the robbery, a violent struggle ensued and the staff member received a cut to her hand requiring surgery.
Another staff member managed to press the panic button to alert staff in another shop who alerted the police. Meanwhile, Okumu removed items of jewellery from the window display and left via the entrance.
The investigation team reviewed hours of CCTV footage and witness statements to recreate Okumu’s movements leading up to, and after, the robbery which revealed he had carried out reconnaissance of the premises on previous days.
Detectives were able to identify Okumu after CCTV stills were circulated to a neighbouring police force who identified him.
In the days that followed, evidence revealed Okumu travelled between Middlesborough, Northallerton, London and Darlington visiting some of the locations twice as he tried to evade police.
Enquiries led detectives to a hotel in Fareham, Hampshire on the morning of Saturday 16 March where Okumu was located and arrested on suspicion of robbery.
A coat belonging to Okumu, which was found in his hotel room, revealed a quantity of rings valued at £212,000 which were later confirmed as being some of the jewellery that was stolen in the robbery. A ‘WhatsApp’ message (pictured) sent to another person by Okumu four days after the robbery also showed him to be in possession of the jewellery.
The door wedge used at the scene by the defendant was submitted for forensic examination and was also found to bear traces of Okumu’s DNA.
Okumu admitted to the Probation Service that he’d been planning the robbery for eight months.
He pleaded guilty to the offence on Friday 12 July and was sentenced at York Crown Court today (Friday 16 August 2019) to ten years and six month imprisonment and five years on license following his release.
As he was sentenced the judge described Okumu as a ‘very dangerous man’ who was likely to reoffend and praised North Yorkshire Police for their investigation.
The court heard that the ordeal left one of the staff members feeling “unsafe” in the presence of dark-coloured motor cycle helmets and blue overalls and that she found it difficult around customers due to a fear that they might cause her harm.
In her Victim Impact Statement she said: “My emotions have also been all over. I feel anger at what happened and why me? What right did he have to do this?”
Another staff member said that the incident was still in her thoughts and it also left her with a “fear of attack from men in helmets and work clothes”.
Another witness, who was nearby at the time of the robbery, described how she was shaking so much she could barely hold on to her mobile phone.
The investigation is ongoing to locate the outstanding jewellery valued at £229,640. A 49 year-old man and a 29 year-old woman arrested in connection with the robbery have been released under investigation whilst enquiries continue.
Investigating officer, Acting Detective Inspector Matthew Wilkinson of North Yorkshire Police said:
“This was a professionally executed and violent robbery which was a truly terrifying ordeal for both the staff members involved and the members of public who were in close proximity to the jewellers as it took place.
“Okumu carried out extensive reconnaissance and careful planning in the period leading up to the day of the robbery and went to great lengths in the days after the incident to cover his tracks, thinking he was safe by hiding a significant distance away from the region.
“I would especially like to thank the public of Northallerton for their support in this case, as a number of witnesses came forward, reporting numerous sightings of a man matching Okumu’s description both on the day of the robbery and as far back as October 2018. Their assistance has been central to bringing this very dangerous man to justice.
“Fortunately, offences of this nature are extremely rare in North Yorkshire and I hope that the significant sentence handed down today sends out a strong message that those who commit robbery in our county will be brought to justice.
“Nobody should ever have to fear something like this happening in their place of work and we will continue to do everything we can to locate people like Okumu who are intent on breaking the law.
“Whilst we continue to review new information in relation to this case, and a 49 year-old man and a 29 year-old woman remain under investigations whilst enquiries continue, there is also a significant amount of jewellery that remains outstanding.
“I would appeal to anyone who has any knowledge of its whereabouts to contact North Yorkshire Police in 101. You can also pass information anonymously to Crimestoppers using their online form or by calling 0800 555 111.”
Last modified: August 16, 2019