A would-be armed robber who held up a jewellery shop while dressed as a woman has been jailed for six years. Ryan Valentine, 39, donned a wig and skirt before entering Cradler's House Jewellers in Leatherhead, Surrey. CCTV of the audacious robbery attempt showed Valentine pull out an imitation firearm from his handbag and threaten staff. His accomplice, Raymond Price, 45, then entered the shop wearing a motorcycle helmet.
The pair's robbery attempt, shortly after 5pm on 19 February, was foiled when two shopworkers refused to hand over any money or jewellery and managed to fend off the duo. The struggle saw Valentine, whose wig and skirt had fallen off, run out of the shop while his partner was tackled and detained until police arrived.
Valentine, of Carlton Road in Walton-on-Thames, was arrested two days later at Gatwick Airport after trying to flee to St Lucia.
The pair were sentenced at Guildford Crown Court on Thursday (19 May) after admitting to possessing an imitation firearm with intent to commit a robbery. Valentine was jailed for six years while Price, of Thamesmead in Walton-on-Thames, was jailed for three years and nine months.
A third person, Paula Jones, 29, of Grenside Road in Weybridge, was also sentenced to 15 months imprisonment during the same hearing for assisting an offender.
Detective Sergeant Joe Easterbrook, of Surrey Police, said: "This was a highly unusual incident where two men in very distinctive clothing attempted to rob a local business in broad daylight. The two members of staff working that day refused to be intimidated by the suspects and showed tremendous bravery to challenge the two men and stop Price from leaving the store until our officers arrived.
"Although the members of staff were both very shaken by what took place fortunately they both only suffered minor injuries during the incident. I would also like to pay tribute to the members of the public walking past the shop at the time of the robbery who stopped to assist with the efforts to prevent Price from escaping.
"I can appreciate that this must have been a very concerning incident for Leatherhead residents and I hope that the lengthy sentences imposed by the courts today will reassure them that these two dangerous individuals will both be off the streets for a considerable period.
"Everyone has the right to go about their business in peace and Surrey Police will not tolerate serious and violent offences of this nature and will do everything possible to bring those responsible to justice."