A professional gang of robbers, which struck three times in Wakefield, has been jailed for a total of 42 years.
CCTV footage of the four violent thugs terrorising shop assistants and security guards with guns, knives, swords and baseball bats during a crime spree that netted them more than £200,000 was shown to Leeds Crown Court.
And moving statements were also read to the court on behalf of victims caught up in the attacks, describing how their lives had been devastated as a result of their ordeals.
The robbers struck twice at the Co-op store in Outwood.
During the first raid, on November 30 last year, one guard had a sawn-off shotgun pointed at his head. In the second raid at the store a guard was struck several times with a baseball bat and robbed of a box of cash.
And then, during a raid at the Spar shop, on Potovens Lane, on December 20, a male shop assistant was ordered to fill a bag with cigarettes and a female worker was threatened with a machete.
The victim, who had the gun pointed at his head, said in a victim impact statement: “Security guards are an easy target for people with no morals, scruples or conscience.”
Prosecutor Jason Pitter told the court: “The offences relate to a campaign of armed robberies of commercial premises and cash-in-transit vehicles. At each of the premises there was used, at the very least, the threat of extreme violence.”
The gang struck at stores in Wakefield, Leeds and at The Gold Shop on Wakefield Road, Bradford.
Mr Pitter added: “It is clear that part of the offending was to subject the victims to real terror for the purpose of obtaining the bounty and making good their escape. These were professionally carried out offences and bore the hallmarks of careful planning, preparation and execution.”
The four gang members, all from Leeds, were sentenced on Tuesday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to rob. Getaway driver Joe Howey, 24, of Fenton Place, Middleton, was jailed for six years; James Beeston, 23, of Temple View Road, East End Park, was jailed for 10 years, Jason Vollans, 29, of Folly Lane, Beeston, was jailed for 14 years and Benjamin Sidlow, 26, of East Grange Drive, Belle Isle, jailed for 12 years.
Judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, said: “The psychological impact on some of these victims has been profound.
“Decent hard working people have had their lives blighted by these offences. For some of them life will never be the same again.”