Man admits role in £150,000 armed robbery at Suffolk jewellers
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A 50-year-old man has admitted being involved in an armed robbery at a Bury St Edmunds jewellers during which watches worth £150,000 were stolen more than five years ago.
Robertas Piliukaitis was brought before Ipswich Crown Court in custody on Monday (February 10) for a plea hearing after being arrested in Belfast last month.
Piliukaitis, of North Wood, Dublin, admitted robbery on November 4, 2014, and possessing an imitation firearm, namely a handgun, with intent to cause fear of violence on the same date.
Judge Emma Peters adjourned sentence until the week commencing April 14 and warned Piliukaitis he was facing a "considerable" prison sentence. She said the starting point would be 16 years with a range of 12 to 20 years.
Judge Peters asked the probation service to prepare a pre-sentence report on him to look at the issue of dangerousness after hearing Piliukaitis had three previous convictions for robbery in Lithuania in 1987, 1993 and 2009 and a firearms offence in 2000.
"You have pleaded guilty to a very serious robbery and to having an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
"These are serious offences and given your previous convictions for similar matters in Lithuania the sentencing judge needs to consider the issue of dangerousness," said Judge Peters.
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"The sentence you will receive will be a considerable one and the only question is how long and what type of sentence will it be," she added.
Piliukaitis, who was assisted during the hearing by a Lithuanian interpreter, was remanded in custody.
In addition to a pre-sentence report Judge Peters asked for victim impact statements to be obtained from people who were in the store at the time of the robbery.
Steven Dyble, for Piliukaitis, said his client was prepared to give the police names of people involved in the raid and was also prepared to give evidence.
Two men entered Preston and Duckworth in the Cornhill, Bury St Edmunds, at about 4.50pm on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, and threatened staff and customers with a black handgun.
They fled the scene with more than 20 high-value watches.
Piliukaitis was arrested in Belfast on Saturday, January 11, by officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, on behalf of Suffolk Constabulary.
He was brought back to Bury St Edmunds police investigation centre for questioning by officers from Suffolk police and was subsequently charged with robbery and threatening a person with an offensive weapon in a public place.
Police said there were no reported injuries during the incident.
A cordon was set up throughout the evening while officers carried out an investigation.
The police helicopter was also called.
Three days later, following an operation in Kings Lynn, police revealed they had arrested three men on suspicion of conspiring to commit armed robbery.
The men, aged 23, 24 and 31 at the time, were interviewed at the town's police investigation centre before being released on bail.
Having answered bail at the beginning of May 2015, the three men were told they would not be charged in connection with the incident.