RL Austen manager disappointed by trial outcome

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Three years doesn’t compensate for shocked staff, says Martin Getting.

RL Austen manager Martin Getting has expressed his disappointment at the sentence handed out to a trio of would-be robbers who attempted to burgle the Chichester shop.

Stephen Dovey, Isaac Yassa and Miles O’Hanlon were each sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison at Chichester Crown Court on Friday in connection with the raid on RL Austen. The trio, armed with a sledgehammer and nail gun, attempted to smash through the store’s armoured glass but failed to gain entry to the shop and fled on BMX bikes empty handed.

Getting said that the sentence was not long enough. He told Professional Jeweller: “I’m disappointed with the sentence – they’ll be out within a year.”

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Although nothing was stolen during the attempted raid, Getting said that the experience had been traumatising for the staff. “Now whenever you see someone coming into the shop the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,” Getting admitted. He revealed that RL Austen had lost one member of staff as a direct result of the attack.

Judge John Hardy QC, who tried the case, said: "This was a professional pre-planned smash and grab attempt. This was an audacious offence where the affect on the victims was particularly severe."

The armoured glass took six weeks to replace, leaving RL Austen without a window display. The shop continued to trade during the period but Getting said that the temporary window was a constant reminder of the crime for both staff and customers.

This attempted robbery was the second is as many weeks for the Chichester retailer. Two weeks earlier the shop had been attacked by a group of men armed with baseball bats. They pulled up in a car in front of the shop, which is in a pedestrianised shopping area. The robbers failed to steal any stock but the staff were left shaken. This case is yet to go to trial.

Despite the two attacks, Getting said that RL Austen will not review its open-door policy. “The jeweller next door to us has a locked door and they’ve been robbed more than us,” he said. “We’re a friendly, open shop and we want it to stay that way.”

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