Robber Lee James Shelley jailed for campaign of terrifying knifepoint raids in Leicester
An armed robber stole £113,000 worth of jewellery during one of five terrifying knifepoint raids.
Lee James Shelley (38) confronted all the victims at their places of work and demanded cash, Leicester Crown Court was told.
He shielded his face with scarves and brandished a variety of blades, ranging from a craft knife to a 12-inch carving knife.
Shelley began his robbery campaign the day after being given a 12-month suspended sentence by judge Michael Pert QC for other crimes.
He was back before Judge Pert yesterday, and was jailed for a total of five-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to three robberies and possessing offensive weapons.
The court was told Shelley went on a spending spree with the proceeds of his crimes.
Shelley, of no fixed address, asked for two other raids to be considered.
James Varley, prosecuting, said that on October 26 last year Shelley posed as a customer at a jewellery shop in Leicester. He inspected two pendants before producing a 10-inch-long kitchen knife and telling the woman sales assistant: "I don't want you to panic."
The woman told him: "I don't want you to hurt me."
He replied: "Just do as I say."
Shelley made off with £200 in cash and a tray of rings worth £113,000, which were never recovered.
A day earlier, he had gone into a home furnishings store in the city and produced a craft knife in front of a female assistant.
Before taking £100 from the till, he told her "I have a knife. You won't be hurt."
Mr Varley said Shelley took changes of clothing with him when committing the robberies, to cover his tracks.
On November 3, Shelley went to a children's clothing shop in Leicester and produced a 12-inch knife. He told the woman assistant: "Open the till, I won't hurt you."
As he helped himself to £200 she ran out of the store and despite "collapsing with shock", flagged down a passing police car. "Officers recognised him and pursued him, but he brandished a knife at them," Mr Varley said.
Shelley made off in a car but was arrested the next day.
One of the raids taken into consideration involved a knifepoint robbery at a pub in Leicester on October 18, the day after Shelley was released from custody by Judge Pert, who gave him a 12-month suspended sentence for offences including harassment.
The other similar offence was at a men's clothing shop in the city centre on October 21. Shelley had 288 offences on his criminal record, including a knifepoint robbery of a man at a cashpoint in September 2011.
Sentencing him, Judge Pert said: "The suspended sentence in October was a complete waste of time as this offending started as soon as I'd passed that sentence. These were knifepoint robberies of small businesses where the occupants were terrified."
Andrew Fryman, mitigating, said: "He told the shopkeepers he wasn't going to hurt them but no doubt they were paralysed with fear. No-one was physically hurt."