Two men involved in a series of terrifying samurai sword robberies targeting convenience stores in Leeds have been sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison. The criminals were brought to justice as a result of a meticulous investigation led by Detective Constable Alan Andrews of the Leeds District Crime Team. DC Andrews, known for his determination to apprehend prolific criminals, utilized his keen ear and observational skills to identify one of the masked robbers based on his voice and distinctive walk.

The first incident occurred on December 13, 2021, at approximately 6:20 pm, when three individuals wearing masks and armed with swords stormed the Skelton Wood Post Office and convenience store on White Laithe Approach in Whinmoor. They scaled the counter, instilling fear in the staff members, and made off with cash from the registers, as well as cigarettes and alcohol, before fleeing in a waiting vehicle.

Ten days later, on December 23, 2021, at around the same time of day, the trio targeted the Londis store on Wetherby Road in Leeds. One of the robbers, later identified as Brandon Jarrett, menacingly stood over a lone female staff member and repeatedly threatened her with violence, demanding access to the cash register. The victim, in a state of panic, was unable to comply, further infuriating Jarrett. Meanwhile, a member of the public, who was being held back by another robber brandishing a large knife, witnessed the distress and danger faced by the victim and courageously confronted Jarrett, prompting him to confront the intervening man.

As Jarrett engaged the member of the public, his accomplice, subsequently identified as Jeffrey Chikosha, remained behind the counter, packing cigarettes into a duvet cover. When the woman attempted to activate the shop’s panic alarm, Chikosha threatened and shoved her aside, forcing open the cash register manually. The pair seized cash and cigarettes, while the third unidentified man stood guard on the shop floor. The courageous member of the public continued to urge the robbers to make a swift exit, warning them of retaliation by picking up a box of beer bottles, poised to throw it at them. Sensing the escalating situation, the robbers fled, leaving the victim shaken but unharmed.

On December 29, 2021, at 6:45 pm, the gang struck again, this time at the Co-op on Selby Road in Leeds. Masked and armed with swords, Jarrett stood guard at the entrance while Chikosha and the unidentified third man raided the tills and cleared the shelves of cigarettes and tobacco. Detective Constable Andrews arrived at the scene shortly after the suspects had fled. Reviewing the CCTV footage, he recognized Chikosha based on his distinctive walk.

Further investigations revealed that Jarrett and Chikosha had called a taxi from a nearby location just ten minutes after the Co-op robbery. The taxi route indicated that Chikosha was dropped off near his residence. Jarrett’s distinctive coat, worn during the crime spree, was recovered from a family address following his arrest.

DC Andrews recognized Chikosha’s voice on the CCTV audio from the Londis robbery, a recognition later confirmed by a specialist voice recognition expert who compared it to a recording from the taxi booking and previous police custody audio of Chikosha. Additionally, inquiries showed that Jarrett had visited Chikosha’s address before the offences, and CCTV footage captured their arrival in a car outside.

During police interviews, both men denied any involvement in the robberies. However, they were charged with the three armed robberies and three counts of possession of samurai swords. While Jarrett pleaded guilty to the charges, Chikosha was convicted after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

Jeffrey Chikosha, 25, residing at Wykebeck Mount, Osmondthorpe, received a sentence of nine years imprisonment. Brandon Jarrett, 23, residing on Haugh Shaw Road, Halifax, was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison. It is noteworthy that the pair had previously been incarcerated in May 2021 for stealing vehicles in Leeds by exploiting their security systems. Released in November 2021 under strict night-time curfews and conditions prohibiting association with each other, they resumed their criminal activities, leading to their latest conviction.

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 to 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.”