Published: 00:01, 16 May 2017
A man who took part in a botched heist – dubbed the Laurel and Hardy raid – is finally behind bars.
Colin Ayers failed to show up for his sentencing hearing for the failed break-in at Cuttings Jewellers in Ramsgate.
Now the 28-year-old has been arrested and sent to prison for two years after admitting conspiracy to burgle – and the judge added another month for his breach of bail.
Canterbury Crown Court heard the details of the comical caper which resulted in him and Mervin Chong abandoning their break-in before their moped smashed into a lamppost.
But defence barrister Ian Foinette pleaded with the judge not to punish Ayres, from Royal Road, Ramsgate “for his stupidity”.
The two-man team had planned with meticulous detail a smash and grab raid on the jewellers in 2013 in which they would snatch expensive watches.
After taking pictures of their proposed target, the pair then wrapped themselves in dark coats, masks, balaclavas and hoodies to conceal their identities.
Then they got on their robbery vehicle, a little moped, only to discover that with all their headwear they couldn't don crash helmets.
Ayres put a pick axe between his legs and began circling the jewellers in Queen Street but was so conspicuous that four shoppers dialled 999 before the raid could take place.
And as they were about to strike, police swooped and in the panic to escape, Ayres, the rider, managed to steer the machine into a lamppost.
The two tried to escape on foot but were caught nearby after one of them ran into the arms of an off-duty police officer from the Met.
And detectives later found incriminating photographs on the rider’s mobile phone showing pictures of the jewellers.
Ayres went on the run before he could be sentenced but his co-accused, the pillion passenger Mervin Chong, was jailed for two years after admitting conspiracy to burgle the shop in June 2013.
The father-of-two - a former NatWest bank cashier from Tooting in London - claimed he had been recruited the day before.
Prosecutor Claire Cooper said that passers-by saw the two on the moped at 9.30am, with their heads and faces totally covered – other than eye-slits – riding past the jewellers with the sledgehammer between the rider’s legs.
Judge Heather Norton told Ayres it was described by a barrister as one of the most inept raids ever, but people were still frightened.
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