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Three men who were arrested by police within 45 minutes of a failed robbery at a Chichester jewellers have each been jailed for three and a half years.
Miles O'Hanlon, 24, of Rutland Close, Redhill, Stephen Dovey, 30, of Finsbury Close, Crawley, and Isaac Yassa, 22, of Ifield Road, Crawley, tried to smash their way inside R L Austens Jewellers in North Street, Chichester, on 3 June this year.
They pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at an earlier court hearing.
The three men were wearing hoods and wielding weapons when they they attempted to break in, activating security smoke alarms. They fled empty handed - two on BMX cycles - chased my members of the public, two plain clothed police officers and a member of police staff who were in their way to a nearby court hearing. One of the officers, Supt Ian Davies, from the Operations Department, HQ, was struck in the face, causing bruising and swelling.
The offenders made off along North Street before getting into a silver van in a nearby public car park; an eagle eyed member of the public took its registration number and marked police vehicles attemped to stop it as it headed east along the A27 and then north along the A29.
Following a police pursuit, the van was stopped by road policing units in Roman Way, Billingshurst, within 45 minutes, and all three men were arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery. They subsequently pleaded guilty.
Detective Sergeant Sally Arbuckle, from Chichester CID, investigated the case. She said:
"The quick thinking and actions of the members of the public in reporting the sightings of the three men - and most importantly the van - lead to the very swift arrest of all of the offenders. Without those people we might not have had such a compelling evidential case.
"The residents and visitors of Chichester have shown yet again that they won't tolerate such criminal activity and will act in defiance of it."
Chief Inspector Ali Darge, District Commander for Chichester, added:
"The quick reaction of passers-by, including our two officers, was impressive and helped disrupt the robbery attempt. We do not want people to put themselves at risk unnecessarily but it is always heartening to see such a public spirited reaction."
The Judge held the actions of the police officers and police staff member in high regard and instructed the Chief Prosecutor to write to Chief Constable Martin Richards. He also praised a female member of the public who challenged the group, awarding her £500 for her actions.