Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News
Prison for man who stole bracelet and rings worth £26,500
AJEWELLERY thief pretended to be a businessman buying an engagement ring for his girlfriend in order to dupe staff.
Mark Dewhurst told a shop assistant in Beaverbrooks he’d sold his business in Spain and was using the money to buy a gold diamond ring for his partner.
But a court heard this was a lie and all part of his “reconnaissance” mission to scout out the store in St John’s Precinct in Liverpool and gain the woman’s trust.
When the 55-year-old returned the next day, he snatched two diamond rings and a diamond bracelet worth £26,500 in total.
Dewhurst, of James Close, Widnes, first examined the gold jewellery at the Liverpool city centre branch on August 30, 2019.
Mark Phillips, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court the crook then claimed he had a business meeting to go to and would try and come back later.
On August 31 he asked the same shop assistant if he could see the rings again and also a gold bracelet he had seen online.
Dewhurst was initially shown the bracelet on its own, but asked to see it with the rings, to see how they looked together.
Mr Phillips said when the items were placed on a tray he snatched them and ran, “barging into one of the shop staff and knocking her out of the way”.
The jewellery has never been recovered, but Dewhurst was tracked down after a CCTV appeal, when an officer recognised him.
He was arrested on September 24, 2019, when he gave a no comment interview.
Mr Phillips said the shop assistant from whom the tray was snatched said it left her feeling “shocked and upset”.
She said: “I feel I will be scared of even getting the jewellery out, in case the same thing happens.”
Dewhurst denied theft and was set to stand trial last month, but two weeks beforehand said he would plea guilty, which he did a week later.
He has 12 previous convictions for 23 offences, including robbery, for which he was jailed for nine years in 1995.
His convictions also include handling stolen goods, drug dealing in 2007 when he was jailed for three years, and more drug offences in 2010, when he received a suspended sentence.
John Rowan, defending, disputed that Dewhurst “barged” into the shop assistant and said this wasn’t shown on the footage.
He said: “The defendant makes no physical contact with any person within the store.”
The court heard the staff referred to Dewhurst having “barged” past the woman and Mr Phillips said he believed this did mean physical contact, which he suggested was shown on the clip.
Judge Anil Murray watched the video and said: “It seems to me that what the defendant certainly did do is pull the door open when the member of staff was trying to keep it closed and that would have had an impact on her body - whether there was touching between her body and his body I can’t tell.”
The judge said he would sentence on the basis there wasn’t any physical contact, but the force of him pulling the door open may have impacted on the worker.
Mr Rowan accepted there was some planning, but said it wasn’t a sophisticated offence and because of the quality of the CCTV, his client was “easily identified” by police.
He said Dewhurst, who was supported by his girlfriend and his son in the public gallery, was last convicted over a decade ago, having “turned his back on crime”.
However, he said: “I’m told there were financial pressures, I’m told there was worry within the family, I’m told there was a level of stress, which may explain why Mr Dewhurst resorted to criminal activity.”
Mr Rowan said Dewhurst was genuinely remorseful and wanted to apologise to Beaverbrooks’ staff.
He said the HGV driver had suffered a stroke in January, which would make prison difficult for him, and his partner’s 11-year-old son would also be affected if he was jailed.
Judge Murray said Dewhurst showed he was “forensically aware” when he first visited the jewellers by wiping down items and the subsequent raid left staff frightened.
He said there was “significant planning”, adding: “You gave an elaborate false story in order to gain their trust and check out their system.”
The judge said Dewhurst told a probation officer he wasn’t guilty of some of his past offences, stating he hadn’t been aware he had drugs in a van on one occasion, another time drugs seized were for personal use, and that stolen goods he handled were bought in good faith.
Judge Murray accepted he had a “difficult childhood”, references about working well for employers, and was on medication following his stroke.
But the judge said he didn’t believe there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation as in his pre-sentence report he denied responsibility for previous offences and he didn’t plead guilty to the theft until shortly before the trial.
Judge Murray said: “I’m sure you played the system in the way you perceived was best to your advantage.”
He jailed Dewhurst for two years and one month, before the thief blew a kiss to his girlfriend as he was sent down.