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Manager of Harpenden jewellers Loveweds: 'I was begging for my life' after jewellery heist
A man who was taken hostage during a £65,000 burglary at a Harpenden jewellery shop has said that he was left begging for his life.
Mitchel Barres, the manager at Loveweds, was tied up and had a hood put over his head while his High Street shop was robbed on Wednesday, March 20.
The 40-year-old, who has two children, was threatened with a gun during the ordeal.
He said: "I had accepted that I was going to be shot. I didn’t believe they were going to take me back.
"I had seen their faces so I thought there was no way they were going to let me go.
"I was begging for my life.
"Until you face literal death you don’t know what it is like."
Ashley Latimer-Bassill, of Crane Mead in Ware, Daniel Stanley from Travellers Lane in Hatfield, both 24, and 21-year-old Jamie Kalaiarasu from Archer Road in Stevenage have been jailed for a total of 17 years for the break-in.
Posing under the fake name Jay, Kalaiarasu made several trips to the shop in the weeks running up to the break-in and ordered several pieces of jewellery using a wedding as a cover story.
The shop only stocks sample items of jewellery so the pieces he requested had to be ordered in.
On the night of the break-in Kalaiarasu visited the shop to view jewellery just before closing time.
Mr Barres began to pack up as usual as he browsed and the pair left together at about 5.45pm.
After saying goodbye on the street Mr Barres walked around to the car park behind the shop where he was approached by two men - Latimer-Bassill and Stanley.
He said: "I knew straight away that I had been done. Within a second I knew the score.
"They explained what they were going to do and said they had a gun.
"I just put my hands up and said take anything you want."
The men took his keys, mobile phone and security alarm fob before putting him into a car.
They put a black hood over his head and tied his hands up with duck tape.
Mr Barres said: "They were aggressive and then they were nice. They kept chopping and changing.
"They were obviously nervous but I didn’t realise it at the time.
"I could see that the driver was getting stressed out.
"The guy next to me didn’t say anything."
He was then driven around for about 20 minutes while the driver quizzed him on how to get into the shop and open the safe. The other man was sat in the back seat with Mr Barres.
The information was then passed onto Kalaiarasu who was inside the shop.
Mr Barres said: "They didn’t realise that I could see through the black hood but they kept pulling my head down.
"I thought I was a goner. They said they had a gun so I thought they were going to get the stuff and shoot me.
"Whether they had a gun or not I thought I was going to get beaten up.
"If there was one of them it would have been a different story but there were two so I didn’t have a chance.
"I didn’t even attempt to run because I was backed in.
"After ten minutes of being driven around I came to the conclusion I was a goner and I just calmed down.
"My heart had been beating out of my chest but I calmed myself right down."
After 20 minutes the car went back to the car park behind the shop.
The men told Mr Barres that he had to get back in his car and wait ten minutes before driving off, and said that he would be shot if he left any sooner.
Once the time was up he drove to the Harpenden Arms pub and called the police.
Judge Stephen Gullick jailed Kalaiarasu and Latimer Bassill for six years and Stanley for five years at St Albans Crown Court on Friday, May 3.
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