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14 April 2014, 15:12 | Updated: 14 April 2014, 15:14
A knife wielding thief who robbed a jewellery store in Tonbridge has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Peter Sanderson, formerly of Tumin House, Maidstone terrorised staff at the John Angell jewellers when he stole diamond rings in a raid last year.
Sanderson, 51, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court today (14 April) and was sentenced for robbery and for possession of a bladed article. He was given a life sentence by Judge Martin Joy after also breaching terms of his prison licence, which had previously been imposed following a history of other serious offences.
On 2 October 2013 Sanderson entered the High Street jewellers at 9.25am. He asked a female employee if he could inspect a ring, which was on a tray in one of the windows.
When she presented the tray to Sanderson he produced a knife and screamed at her to ‘get down’ on the floor. He then shouted the same command to the store’s owner who was at the other end of the shop, before fleeing the premises with a number of diamond and sapphire rings.
Clutching the tray of jewellery Sanderson then fled through the High Street, but was pursued by the store manager and a member of the public. However, after the pair chased him into New Wharf Road they lost sight of him.
Sanderson was arrested on 4 October after detectives analysed CCTV in the town which showed him driving a BMW in the direction of Maidstone. A flat cap and leather jacket he had been wearing during the robbery were found inside the vehicle.
Sanderson denied being responsible for the robbery at an earlier court hearing but was found guilty by a jury. Passing sentence, Judge Martin Joy set a minimum tariff of five years before Sanderson could be considered for parole, concluding that Sanderson presented a ‘significant risk’ to the public.
Judge Joy said: ‘The robbery was quite plainly planned by you. Having visited the jewellers the night before you armed yourself with a dagger. You then clearly committed this offence and then ran away having obtained a tray of jewellery.’
Leading the investigation for Kent Police was Detective Constable Tony Hatcher who said: ‘This is a good result which means someone who was a very serious threat to the public has now been taken off the streets. Although Sanderson could be eligible for parole in five years he will have to clearly demonstrate that he no longer presents a danger to the public before there is any chance of him being released. There is every possibility that Sanderson will remain in prison for a very long time.’