Court hears how Miena Jewellery owner fought back robbers with fire extinguisher despite being 'struck with axe'

Three members of an armed organise crime gang who donned burkas as disguises during a raid on a jeweller's shop were facing lengthy jail sentences today.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 3:27 pm
Miena Jewellery in Edinburgh's Great Junction Street

Dean King, Anthony Wheeldon and Connor Willis were among the robbers who targeted Walker the Jeweller in Dundee.

Willis also admitted taking part in an earlier raid on another jeweller's shop in Edinburgh on August 31 that year which was also targeted by an armed gang.

The owner of Miena Jewellery in the city's Great Junction Street, Wail Al-Khamis, bravely fought back against the intruders, despite being struck with an axe.

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The robbers used a Volkswagen Golf car stolen from a house in Edinburgh the previous day as a getaway car, which was abandoned before they switched to another vehicle to make their escape.

The advocate depute Ashley Edwards QC said masked men wearing masks had emerged from the Golf before running the Edinburgh jeweller's shop. One was carrying a sledgehammer and two were armed with an axe.

They forced entry by striking the door with the sledgehammer.

She said: "Mr Al-Khamis shouted 'robbery' and began throwing items, mainly tools, at the males. One of the males was wielding an axe above his head and he shouted 'I will kill you'. One of the other males shouted 'We will kill you'."

"The first male approached Mr Al-Khamis and twice aimed blows at him with an axe. Mr Al-Khamis blocked these blows with his left arm, which was struck with the axe, which the male then dropped," she said.

The raiders looted gold chains, coins and other items of jewellery from smashed display cases worth about £27,000.

But Mr Al-Khamis picked up a fire extinguisher and set it off releasing a cloud of carbon dioxide spray which prompted the robbers to flee.

Following the raid on the Edinburgh business police recovered CCTV from a city cafe of four men who had been in a vehicle that was driven at high speed from a car park where the Golf used in the robbery was abandoned.

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Five men accused of axe attack and robbery at Miena Jewellery in Edinburgh

Ms Edwards said: "In due course a police officer from Manchester police was able to make the identification of Connor Willis from the footage.

The High Court in Edinburgh was shown footage of King taking part in a ruse to keep the door of the premises open while accomplices - two of whom were wearing Islamic style full length robes and face coverings - ran in.

Advocate depute Ashley Edwards QC said a stolen Ford Kuga stopped outside the Union Street store in Dundee and the raiders emerged after King had gained entry before bending down to tie a lace, preventing the security door closing.

The robbers began smashing display cabinets but a member of staff activated an anti-robbery device which filled the store with a thick fog and they fled with only two Rolex watches worth £17,850.

Mr Morris had a cut to his head closed with paper stitches following the assault on him.

King (28), Wheeldon (40) and Willis (24) pleaded guilty to carrying out the assault and robbery at the Dundee jeweller on September 23 in 2019 while acting with others.

A DNA profile matching Willis, who was previously jailed for robbery, was recovered from a rucksack dropped during the later robbery in Dundee.

The Ford Kuga used by the five-strong gang was found at the city's South Victoria Dock Road and despite the attempts by robbers to disguise their identities during the raid forensic material identifying the three criminals.

A vape bottle was found which yielded a DNA profile matching Wheeldon. Willis fingerprints were found on the rear registration plate and a DNA match with King was discovered on clothes in a holdall.

King was later arrested in Hamilton, in Lanarkshire, and told police he was "a known driver". He said four boys with English accents had turned up at his door with mallets and an axe.

He denied assaulting Mr Morris during the raid on the Dundee premises and said: "I am capable of a lot of things but that just isnae wan."

Wheeldon and Willis were both later detained in Manchester.

Defence counsel Ian Duguid QC said Willis previously committed robbery when he was 17. He added: "He is somebody who is prepared to follow his peers."

The judge, Lord Beckett, deferred sentence on the trio for the preparation of background reports. They were remanded in custody.