Two men involved in a string of terrifying samurai sword robberies at convenience stores in Leeds have today been jailed for a total of 15 years.
The pair were brought to justice as a result of an investigation by Detective Constable Alan Andrews, of Leeds District Crime Team, who was able to recognise one of the masked robbers from his voice and his walk.
DC Andrews prides himself on being the scourge of prolific criminals, particularly in east Leeds, who arrogantly brag on social media about “no face, no case” in reference to wearing balaclavas and face coverings while committing offences.
At 6.20pm on December 13, 2021, three masked men armed with swords burst into Skelton Wood Post Office and convenience store, in White Laithe Approach, Whinmoor.
They climbed over the counter and threatened the frightened staff before escaping in a waiting car with cash from the tills and cigarettes and alcohol.
The robbers struck again at about the same time of day on December 23, 2021, when they targeted the Londis store, in Wetherby Road, Leeds.
The three masked men terrorised the lone woman member of staff behind the counter and threatened her with a sword while making demands for cash and cigarettes.
One of the gang, later identified as Brandon Jarrett, stood over her and repeatedly threatened her with violence to open the till. The victim was in a state of panic and unable to comply, which infuriated Jarrett who continued to threaten her.
A member of the public, who was being kept at bay on the shopfloor by one of the robbers brandishing a large knife, saw the fear and danger the victim was in and challenged Jarrett causing him to storm over and threaten the man.
While his accomplice, subsequently identified as Jeffrey Chikosha, stayed behind the counter loading cigarettes into a duvet cover, the woman tried to press the shop’s panic alarm.
In response Chikosha threatened her and shoved her aside before forcing open the till with his hands.
The pair stole cash and cigarettes while the third man, who was never identified, continued to stand guard on the shopfloor.
The member of the public bravely continued to challenge them telling them to “make it quick and leave” and warned them he would start to retaliate by throwing things.
Jarrett charged over to remonstrate with him, and the man picked up a box of beer bottles above his head, poised to launch it at them.
As the situation began to escalate, he repeatedly shouted at the men to leave before launching the box at them and chasing them from the shop armed with another heavy box.
Despite outnumbering him and being armed with large blades, the three robbers fled from the shop leaving the victim badly shaken but uninjured.
At 6.45pm on December 29, 2021, the gang struck at the Co-op, in Selby Road, Leeds, again masked and armed with swords.
Jarrett stood guard at the entrance wielding a sword while Chikosha and a third unidentified man took cash from the tills and emptied the shelves of cigarettes and tobacco.
DC Andrews attended the scene minutes after the suspects had fled. He viewed CCTV of the incident and recognised Chikosha from his walk.
Further enquiries showed Jarrett and Chikosha had called a taxi from a nearby location ten minutes after the offence, with the route showing Chikosha was dropped off close to his address.
Jarrett had worn a distinctive coat during the crime spree, and this was recovered at a family address following his arrest.
DC Andrews had recognised Chikosha’s voice on the CCTV audio at the Londis robbery and this was later confirmed by the work of a specialist voice recognition expert comparing it and a recording from the taxi booking to previous police custody audio of Chikosha.
Further enquiries showed Jarrett had been at Chikosha’s address in Wykebeck Mount, Osmondthorpe, before the offence and the car they escaped in was captured on CCTV arriving outside.
Enquiries around the first offence showed the pair had returned to Chikosha’s home straight after the incident where Jarrett booked a taxi back to a bail hostel in Halifax to make it home in time for his curfew.
Police communication analysts showed the pair had been in regular contact in the time leading up to and after the offences.
They denied any involvement when they were interviewed about the offences, but both were subsequently charged with the three armed robberies and three counts of possession of samurai swords.
Jarrett pleaded guilty to the charges and Chikosha was convicted following a trial at Leeds Crown Court.
Chikosha, aged 25, of Wykebeck Mount, Osmondthorpe, was sentenced to nine years imprisonment and Jarrett, aged 23, of Haugh Shaw Road, Halifax, was sentenced to six years and nine months at Leeds Crown Court today.
The pair had previously been jailed in May 2021 for their role in stealing vehicles in Leeds using software to overcome their security systems.
They were released in November 2021 with strict night-time curfews and conditions not to associate with each other.
Detective Inspector Vicky Vessey, who heads Leeds District Crime Team, said: “Jarrett and Chikosha are prolific criminals who were responsible for this series of armed robberies that saw the victims put through really frightening ordeals.
“They were masked and armed with samurai swords during these incidents and the victims were put in genuine fear that they could get seriously hurt. We do not underestimate the traumatic impact that these incidents will have had on them.
“The footage from the robbery at the Londis store shows very starkly what a terrifying experience this was for those involved.
“It is important that we recognise the incredible bravery of the customer who, despite facing three masked men armed with swords, stood up to them, fought back and chased them from the store.
“While we always advise people caught up in such potentially dangerous situations to put their safety first, his actions clearly made the difference in bringing this incident to a conclusion before anyone was seriously hurt.
“We will be making sure that his courage is formally recognised through our awards process.
“Jarrett and Chikosha have demonstrated that they give absolutely no thought for the terror and trauma that they brought to people’s lives during these incidents. We hope the significant sentences they have received will help to reassure the victims and the wider community.
“We know that offenders like them brag about ‘no face, no case’ if they wear masks while committing offences, but DC Andrews’ detailed knowledge of local criminals and investigative skills have shown them that their arrogance is misplaced.”