Jewel thief sentenced to 10 years

A four-year hunt for an armed robber who stole £374,000-worth of Rolex and other watches in a vicious raid on a Jewish-run jewellers in Leeds, has ended with his conviction after extradition to the UK.

Estonian Algo Toomits, 31, terrified staff with a gun at the exclusive Berry's Jewellers in Leeds city centre in February 2007, while two accomplices smashed display cases with hammers and stole 30 high-value watches.Staff dived to the floor as Toomits brandished a gun, now known to have been a replica.

Toomits escaped to Estonia. He is thought to be connected to a gang that has carried out a series of international raids from the Baltic country by using budget flights to target jewellers across Europe.

He was sentenced on Monday at Leeds Crown Court to 10 years' imprisonment for robbery, and possession of an imitation firearm with intent.

Simon Walton, director of Berry's Jewellers, which has 10 stores, who is a trustee of the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board, was in the jewellers' at the time of the robbery.

"The police have done a very good job," he said. "We are happy the people have been caught."

    Last updated: 10:10am, July 29 2011