April 25 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, December 14, 2013
A robber, who held up two shops in Norwich on the same day threatening female staff, is starting a six year jail sentence, thanks to the help of a retired detective, who recognised the offences were strikingly similar to those carried out by someone he arrested more than 11 years ago.
Ryan Smith, 38, held up Arts Desire, on St Benedict’s Street, and after threatening the female worker with a screwdriver, he escaped with £40.
Later that same day, he carried out another robbery at Vintage Clothing, in Unthank Road, where he fled with £20, Norwich Crown Court heard.
Chris Youell, prosecuting, said that Smith appeared to target lone females and in the second robbery had tried to stop the female shopworker dialling 999, before he fled with the cash,
Mr Youell said that police got CCTV footage and following a report of the robberies in our sister paper the EDP, retired detective Neal Carr recognised that the offences bore a striking similarity to an offender he arrested back in 2002 for a string of similar robberies around the city.
Mr Carr and another officer had been responsible for arresting Smith after he carried out robberies on a number of shops in Norwich including the fashion shop Ginger, in Timberhill and the Co-op store in Dereham Road. Smith was jailed for nine years back in 2002,
Mr Carr phoned Norwich CID and found it was his old team who were dealing with the inquiry and his tip-off then led police to arrest Smith, who had returned to live in Norwich, after being freed from prison on early release.
Smith was also picked out on an ID parade by one of his victims
Smith, of Woodcock Road, Norwich, admitted carrying out the two robberies on July 24 and was jailed for six years and ordered to be on an extended four year licence on his release.
Mr Carr, who was a police officer for 30 years and served on Norwich CID for 26 years, said that when he first read about the robberies it stirred memories of the arrest he made all those years ago, as the places Smith targeted were unusual, such as dress shops.
“It was the same MO (Modus Operandi).”
He said that while his memory is not always so good at recalling everyday events, when it came to policework he could remember all the cases he ever worked on, during his long police career.
“It’s bizarre but I can remember all the cases and as soon as I saw it in the paper I thought he could be a prime suspect.”
He said that it was satisfying to have been involved in apprehending a robber - even though he is now retired and said that robberies of this kind, where lone shopworkers were threatened, often had a long-lasting effect on the victim.
His view was backed up by Judge Nicholas Coleman who told Smith that the courts had a duty to protect shopworkers and said: “It is right that shopkeepers have the protection of the courts, particularly lone females working in these shops in the city.”
He accepted that it was Smith’s addiction to heroin which had caused him to re-offend but warned him that if on his release he carried out further offences of this kind, he could be facing a life sentence next time.
He said although no force was used, he had put the workers in fear.
Michael Clare, for Smith, said that on his release from his last jail term he had got help with his drug addiction and moved to Bournemouth. However when his new wife had a miscarriage causing problems in the relationship he had slipped back into taking heroin and moved back to Norwich.
He said Smith had an insight into his offending behaviour and had written letters of apology to the two women involved which he hoped with agreement they could receive.