Armed robber jailed after raids on Jesmond shops

22 May 2018 09:00 AM

Reilly, James Robert [View Full Size]

A robber who raided a string of Jesmond shops armed with a BB gun and wearing ski goggles has been jailed.

James Reilly, 26, has been sent to prison for eight years after admitting three separate robberies in Jesmond last year.

He carried out his first raid on October 16 last year when he entered the Lonsdale Pub and threatened a staff member with a BB gun as they closed the pub down for the night.

He claimed the gun "was loaded" and demanded the lone staff member hand over cash but he fled empty handed after being told there was no money in the tills.

Three months later on January 26, Reilly was at it again when he burst in to the Sainsbury's store on Lyndhurst Avenue and announced to staff - "this is an armed robbery".

He threatened staff with the imitation firearm during the 7.30am raid before making off with £30 in cash and around 15 packets of cigarettes.

His final robbery was on February 23 when he entered the Waitrose supermarket on Osborne Road wearing the same ski mask and woolly hat. 

Staff asked what Reilly wanted to which he replied "I'm robbing the store, what do you think?" before making off with around £200 and cigarettes.

Detectives in Central CID spent weeks speaking to witnesses and trawling through CCTV before they identified Reilly as a suspect following intelligence from neighbourhood officers in Jesmond.

They then raided his home on Queens Terrace in Jesmond where they discovered two imitation firearms and the clothing he had worn to carry out the robberies.

He admitted two counts of robbery and one attempted robbery and on Friday he was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court.

Following the hearing, the investigating officer in the case branded Reilly as a "prolific criminal" who deserved to spend a significant time behind bars.

Detective Constable Paul Hodge said: "These robberies received a lot of local media attention at the time and caused residents in Jesmond a lot of concern.

"The victims of these robberies would have been terrified after being confronted in broad daylight with what they believed to be a loaded handgun.

"I am glad that the person responsible is now behind bars and this sends a clear message to would-be offenders that they won't get away with this type of crime.

"James Reilly thought he could get away with these offences but the reality is that a team of detectives were on his tail from the moment he committed the first robbery.

"He is a prolific offender who deserves to spend a significant amount of time behind bars and I am very satisfied with the sentence he has been given.

"Businesses and residents in Jesmond can sleep more peacefully at night knowing that he has now been taken off our streets."