Pensioner Jailed For £74,000 Robbery

12 October 2011, 14:08 | Updated: 12 October 2011, 15:34

A pensioner robber walked into a rare antique coin shop and, after grabbing the owner in a headlock, stole over £74,000 worth of his stock.

John Gladwin, 72, helped himself to coins, gold and jewellery, as well as cash during a 10 minute raid, during which he was helped by a younger accomplice.

On Tuesday, Gladwin, described by a judge as "an old lag who hadn't changed his ways" was jailed for 4 years.

The court heard he committed the robbery in January of this year in Biggleswade, Beds., after taking out a £10,000 loan from a loan shark.

Three months later and after making payments of £500 a month, he found himself owing more than he had originally borrowed.

At Luton Crown Court, Gladwin of Stubbs Lane, Lower Kingswood, Surrey, pleaded guilty to robbery.

Natalie Carter, prosecuting, told how on the morning of Wednesday January 5 this year, shortly after 11am, the defendant, wearing a wide brimmed hat, entered the Cambridge Coins & Jewellery in High Street, Biggleswade.

Inside the shop, having just opened up, was owner David Allen, 60, and the pensioner asked to see a rare Victorian sovereign.

As Mr Allen returned with a tray of sovereign rings from a safe, which he had opened seconds before, Gladwin grabbed him in a headlock and bundled him into his office, forcing him to the floor.

CCTV footage of the robbery was played in court, which showed Gladwin being joined by a younger accomplice.

Mr Allen had his feet and hands bound and his fleece was pulled over his head so that he couldn't see what was going on.

The footage showed Gladwin selecting trays of coins and jewellery and placing them in a holdall bag.

A fearful Mr Allen can be heard in the background pleading "I will do what you ask."

He is further heard to say, "Can I sit in a chair please?"  To which Gladwin's response is "Where's your keys to the safe?"

Miss Carter said that in fact there was evidence that Gladwin had carried out a reconaissance mission at the shop some weeks earlier.  On that occasion, he had been in a wheelchair and was wheeled into the shop by another man, whose face was concealed behind a scarf.

As the robbery continued, another customer tried to get into the shop, but was prevented by the locked door.

The accomplice, wearing an anorak with a hood up and his face concealed, could be heard to say, "We are not open yet.  Can you come back please?"

Judge Richard Foster, hearing the case, was told that Mr Allen's hands and feet were bound by cable ties.

After ten minutes, Gladwin and his accomplice left the shop and Mr Allen was able to partially free himself and hit the panic button.

But, in making off, Gladwin had left behind a telltale clue in the shape of a pay-as-you-go mobile phone.

When calls on it were analysed, it was discovered that a call had been made to his ex-wife in Chelmsford.

As a result, Bedfordshire Police went to Gladwin's bungalow home, where he was arrested.

A search of the property revealed books on coins, two wheelchairs and a special magnifying glass to study coins.

He had £580 in his pocket.

The court was told that despite expressing remorse for his crime, Gladwin has never revealed to police who his accomplice was that day.

Miss Carter told the judge:  "Your Honour can be sure this was a planned robbery.''

She said Gladwin had made off that day with coins and jewellery worth £74,500, but later Mr Allen was only recompensed by his insurance company for around to the tune of just over £58,400 and he had to fork out a further £5,000 to upgrade his security at the shop.

The court heard that since the robbery, he had been fearful the robbers might return and he had even considered giving up his business.

Miss Carter said he also had to put on a brave face in front of his three part-time workers at the shop.

The court heard that Gladwin had first got in trouble with the law when he was just 12 years old and had been jailed in the 1950's for housebreaking.

Scott Ivill, defending, said "The video makes very unpleasant viewing indeed and one can only have sympathy for the victim, who sits in court today."

He said that Gladwin was now remorseful for what he had done.

The barrister said his client had not named his accomplice that day and said "Mr Gladwin's partner has already been threatened in relation to what's gone on.  She has been left in no doubt what will happen to her and Mr Gladwin if he was to name the other individual concerned."

He said that back in November 2009, his client had borrowed £10,000 from a loan shark which, despite meeting the £500 per month repayments, had found himself three months later owing more money than he had borrowed.

"He made a very foolish decision to become involved in this offence."

The court heard that the defendant had a history of heart problems and had suffered two heart attacks in the past.

Passing sentence, Judge Foster said:  "It's quite clear, from what I have seen, that you were the ringleader."

He said Mr Allen, as a sole trader, had been particularly vulnerable that day.

The Judge added "You showed him little mercy. You are an old lag, who has not changed his ways. You must face a substantial custodial sentence for what you have done."

He jailed Gladwin for 4 years.

As the defendant left the dock, he said "I am really sorry."