Children left in terror by robbery gang

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Three men who were part of a robbery gang which carried out a terror raid on a family home in Batley have been jailed for more than 16 years.

Bradford Crown Court heard how the masked gang tricked their way into the property while the parents of the five children were attending a wedding.

During the raid last year, one of the three intruders stood guard over the children while other members looked for money and jewellery.

Prosecutor Simon Haring described how one of the robbers barged his way into the house after knocking on the door with a parcel.

A teenage boy was punched in the face and the eldest child, a teenage girl, was pushed down onto the floor as she was interrogated by one of the intruders.

Mr Haring said one of the men was wearing a balaclava with a skull and crossbones motif on it and all of them were wearing gloves.

The men fled with a holdall containing property worth an estimated £15,000 and they told the children to wait for two minutes before coming out.

Judge Colin Burn said the actions of two members of the public who gave details of the getaway van to the police and officers were able to locate the vehicle soon after the robbery had taken place.

One of the gang managed to escape, but the van driver Ashleigh Jeffers, 26, of Hollin Park Crescent, Oakwood, Leeds, and Ricardo Welsh, 24, of Markham Avenue, Leeds, were both arrested.

A third member of the gang 25-year-old Thorin Phillips, of Norman Towers, West Park, Leeds, also tried to run off, but he was detained soon after.

Inside the van officers found the holdall containing the stolen property as well as the balaclavas and a stun gun.

Jeffers, who had a previous conviction for acting as the driver in a similar robbery, was found guilty of robbery following a trial and was jailed for six years.

Phillips and Welsh, who both admitted the robbery offence, were each jailed for five years and four months.

Jailing the men Judge Burn said during the course of the robbery the children had been coralled into a room and told they would not be hurt if they cooperated. ‘’They were found to be distressed obviously when the police arrived,’’ said the judge.