Pair jailed after series of terrifying armed robberies

Mark Amis (left) and Gareth Downey, who were jailed after a series of armed robberies in Newcastle and North Tyneside.

Mark Amis (left) and Gareth Downey, who were jailed after a series of armed robberies in Newcastle and North Tyneside.

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Two men have been jailed for more than ten years after armed robberies across North Tyneside and Newcastle.

Mark Amis, 28, and Gareth Downey, 30, have been jailed for 11 years after appearing at Newcastle Crown Court.

The pair were captured on CCTV – now released by Northumbria Police – entering the Jules B clothing store in Jesmond, Newcastle, armed with a knife and a machete on November 25, 2015.

Witnesses watched on in horror as they gathered thousands of pounds worth of clothing after they had been seen driving round the block in a stolen car – blasting Little Mix on the car stereo.

It was one of a number of raids committed at commercial properties across North Tyneside and Newcastle at the end of 2015.

The pair, both of Walker in Newcastle, admitted three robberies, two thefts, two arsons and handling stolen goods.

CCTV footage of Mark Amis and Gareth Downey armed robbery at Jules B clothes shop in Jesmond, Newcastle.

CCTV footage of Mark Amis and Gareth Downey armed robbery at Jules B clothes shop in Jesmond, Newcastle.

Northumbria Police say the sentence is a “strong message” to other would-be criminals in the region.

Detective Sergeant Keith Howells, who led the investigation with Central Area Command CID, said: “These were very serious offences that left both victims and witnesses traumatised and fearing for their safety.

“These robberies were clearly planned and calculated but both Amis and Downey were clumsy in their execution of those plans which meant we could stop them in their tracks and put them behind bars.

“It is thanks to hours of forensic investigation into CCTV and telecomms data that allowed us to pin the suspects to the scene and gather evidence from the technology in their possession.

“I want to thank the witnesses in the case who provided us with vital information to support the prosecution and took videos of Amis and Downey in the aftermath of their criminal activity.

“A sentence of more than a decade sends a strong message to any other criminals operating in our region – we will find you, we will arrest you and we will make sure you spend a long time behind bars.”

The first robbery took place on the evening of September 24, 2015, when two men wearing hoods approached a man parked on Osborne Avenue in Jesmond.

They opened the car door, pointed a sharp object at him and stole the £9,500 vehicle. It was later found burned out in Wallsend with two phones worth £760 gone.

On October 1, 2015, there was a robbery at Storrar Marine Ltd, on the Coast Road, Heaton, during which two men used a pick axe handle to steal cash and designer clothing worth more than £1,500.

Amis and Downey denied responsibility for the raid but admitted handling stolen goods.

Just a month later they stole a Hyundai vehicle off the drive of a pensioner in Walker before raiding a phone and computer shop in North Shields just days later.

The following morning the robbers struck at Jules B when they entered the store armed with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and a machete-style knife. Amis and Downey fled with more than £3,500 of clothing.

A day later the stolen Hyundai from the man in Walker was found on fire in North Shields. The following day police arrested Amis and Downey and recovered some of the stolen property.

They were charged in connection with the robberies and admitted the charges against them as a result of the overwhelming evidence presented to the court by detectives.