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VIDEO: Burkha robbers jailed over Burnley jewellery raid
11:04am Tuesday 3rd April 2012 in Burnley
GANG members, including one dressed in a burkha, who staged a frenzied attack on a Burnley jewellers have been jailed for a total of more than 42 years.
CCTV footage showed how one robber posed as a female wearing a burkha to get into Muzzafer’s Jewellers in Brougham Street, closely followed by three accomplices wielding an imitation rifle, sword and metal baseball bats.
- ABOVE, FROM TOP LEFT: Rais Atcha, Faheem Khola, Mohammed Khan and Baber Khan.
Rais Atcha, Baber Khan, Faheem Khola and Mohammed Khan tried to downplay their roles in a robbery spree across Burnley and Bolton.
After Judge Pamela Badley jailed each of them at Preston Crown Court, the Burnley councillor for the area, Coun Shah Hussain, said: “The fact the thieves wore burkhas to trick their way into the store makes this crime even more despicable.”
And community leaders in Burnley condemned the gang for using a burkha to con their way into the jewellers.
The court heard how the same gang also held up a couple aged 74 and 63 at their own home in the Fairfield Drive area of Burnley.
Prosecutor Charlotte Holland said one of them threatened to cut off the elderly woman’s hand if she did not remove treasured jewellery.
Another elderly couple, aged 85 and 77, were similarly attacked and robbed in their own home in the Ellesmere Road area of Bolton, by masked men carrying an axe and a hammer.
Atcha, of Burwell Close, Baber Khan, of Willows Lane, Kola, of Mancroft Avenue, and Mohammed Khan, of Jasmine Court, all Bolton, each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob between February and May, 2011.
Judge Badley jailed Atcha for 12 years, Khola for 10 years and eight months and Baber Khan for 10 years and eight months. Mohammed Khan, who had previous convictions for drug dealing and wounding, was jailed for nine years and four months and ordered to serve a five-year extended period on licence.
Atcha, who had gambling problems, claimed he was only the getaway driver for the jewellery and Fairfield Drive attacks.
And Kola, another gambling addict, said he was only involved in the jewellers’ and Fairfield Drive raids.
He insisted he never went into the jewellers and was a lookout in the last incident.
Mohammed Khan similarly claimed he was just a driver for the Ellesmere Road robbery and Baber Khan, who said he was deeply remorseful for his actions, only went along for the promise of £2,000.
But the judge told them they must each bear varying degrees of responsibility for what went on during the three robberies, as part of overall conspiracy.
Speaking after the case, Det Sgt Nicola Bithell, of Burnley CID, said: “These men are dangerous offenders who have been running riot in Lancashire and Greater Manchester for some time.
“The gang used extreme violence and weapons to threaten the victims, leaving them terrified and traumatised.”
Two of three raids left the Daneshouse with Stoneyholme area in a state of shock, according to a councillor.
Coun Hussain said: “This crime shocked our very close-knit community to the core.
“The fact the thieves wore burkhas to trick their way into the store makes this crime even more despicable.
“Muzzafer’s Jewellery Store has now tightened security but this robbery is a sign of the times we live in.
“I hope the sentence passed on these thieves reflects the crime they committed and the impact they had not only on the owner but the community as a whole.”