'Dangerous' robber sent back to prison for 'shocking' armed raid at Sheffield cash-and-carry

A ‘dangerous’ criminal who left terrified shoppers and staff fearing for their lives during a ‘truly shocking’ armed raid at a Sheffield cash-and-carry has been sent back to prison.

By Sarah Marshall
Thursday, 08 August, 2019, 18:15

James Stephen Allen, 40, had been released from a 12 year, eight month prison sentence for less than four weeks when he and a masked accomplice raided Costco in Parkway Drive, Darnall on the afternoon of April 28 this year.

Sheffield Crown Court was told how both men were armed; Allen with a hammer, and his accomplice with what appeared to be a double-barrelled shotgun.

“You executed this robbery with fearsome determination. You were the man with the hammer. Your co-accused would be the man with the gun. His task was to keep the staff away from the counter, while you attacked the glass case with a hammer,” said The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC.

James Stephen Allen was jailed for 8 years, six months for a robbery at Costco in Darnall in April this year

The second robber, who Allen has refused to name, shouted at staff, ordering them to ‘stay down’ as Allen grabbed diamond jewellery valued at £12,000 from the glass case.

Allen stuffed the jewellery into his backpack, before the duo fled the scene in a blue Ford Focus bearing cloned license plates.

Members of the public were present at the store when the robbery took place, including a young child.

The court was previously told how Allen visited the store with a woman on the day before the robbery, and spent time looking at the jewellery cabinet before being confronted and asked to leave.

Allen was linked to the robbery, after his blood was found on the shattered glass case.

Despite the DNA evidence linking him to the scene, Allen initially denied all involvement when he was arrested by police on May 4 this year.

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He eventually acknowledged his wrongdoing when he entered guilty pleas to charges of robbery and possession of an imitation firearm during a court hearing held last month.

Despite not being seen to brandish the ‘imitation’ firearm, Allen was charged with the offence on the basis of joint enterprise.

Judge Richardson said Allen was charged with possession of an imitation firearm, as opposed to possession of a firearm, because the weapon has never been recovered.

“Whether it was a real one, or whether it was an imitation one, we shall never know. You however, know the truth…those who were in the premises certainly assumed it was real,” said Judge Richardson, adding that he regarded the robbery to be ‘truly shocking’.

Allen has 14 previous convictions from 30 offences, the most recent of which was for aggravated vehicle taking, blackmail and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Allen was sentenced for those offences in March 2011 to 12 years and eight months in prison, from which he was released on licence on April 3 this year – just 25 days before the raid was carried out.

James Gould, defending, said in mitigation: “On this occasion, as serious as this case and this offence is, in my submission no harm was in fact caused.”

Judge Richardson sentenced Allen to eight-and-a-half years in prison, and sentenced him to an extended license period of an additional three-and-a-half years due to the danger he is deemed to pose to the public.

He told Allen: “I have come to the conclusion that you are a dangerous offender...there is a significant risk you will cause serious harm to members of the public in the future by committing other very serious crimes.”

“It is very important that you understand that should you in the future commit a serious crime, the sentence is very likely to be a life sentence,” added Judge Richardson.