Jeweller shuts up shop after raid

AN Essex jeweller who tackled a knife-wielding robber by throwing an antique clock at him is still so traumatised by the ordeal he is closing his shop.

AN Essex jeweller who tackled a knife-wielding robber by throwing an antique clock at him is still so traumatised by the ordeal he is closing his shop.

Harry Francis, 64, has owned HBJ Jewellers in Connaught Avenue, Frinton-on-Sea, for the last 23 years but said he feels forced to shut up shop, because he fears for his and his staff's safety.

Mr Francis suffered a terrifying ordeal when a man held a knife to his throat as he tried to rob the shop, last October. Instead of handing over his goods, Mr Francis fought back.

He hurled the clock at him and the robber leapt over the counter and smashed the glass. Another tussle ensued before the intruder fled empty-handed.

He said: "I suppose it was a very brave thing to do but at the time it was something I did on the spur of the moment, a reaction I did not think about. It was really frightening and it took a long time for me to calm down. The adrenaline rush did help me to get over it and I thought it was a one-off thing."

He said: "The police advised me there were other things happening in the area and one day a man stood outside the shop just staring in. Then I decided it was not safe to continue.

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"I am not going to stay here and wait for something to happen. I have been forced to leave as I do not want to be left on my own in the shop and I do not have the money or the time to train another manager. There are no other security measures I could take.

"I am very sad about it and I will miss my loyal customers and the people who travel long distances to come here. I am very thankful to them for the support they showed me after the incident."

Sgt John Scott, officer responsible for Frinton, said: "Frinton is a low-crime area and I think it is dangerous to give out the wrong signals about 'fear crime'. There are a lot of elderly people living here. Sometimes the fear of the crime is worse than the actual incidents in the area.

"I do not want to be cynical, but Mr Francis is coming up to retirement age and has found a buyer for his shop. He has not mentioned to us he is living in fear and has not openly said he feels he has to close his premises. Obviously, it is a shame the incident happened but I think we have to keep the overall situation in mind."

Mr Francis said a "younger and fitter" jeweller has bought the shop and will be opening it under a new name in June. He will now dedicate more time to selling jewellery through the website he has set-up with his wife.

He said: "I hope the person who did this will not do it again as they do not know what they put people through."

On March 10 this year, Paul Taylor, 39, of Fernwood Avenue, Holland-on-Sea, pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court to assaulting Mr Francis with intent to rob. He also admitted possessing an offensive weapon in Connaught Avenue and driving a Ford Sierra dangerously on the road last October. He will be sentenced on May 12.

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