A former jeweller whose parents were held at gunpoint by an Ironville man in an 1980s armed raid has told his relief at finally seeing the culprit put behind bars.
Ian Hardy, who used to own Jeanian Jewellers on Osmaston Road in Derby, said the events of July 10, 1986 - where two men attempted to rob his wholesalers using a sawn off shotgun - left his parents emotionally scarred and crippled his business.
Last week 65-year-old Barrie Rhodes, of Monument Lane, Ironville, was convicted of the crime after police found a match between his fingerprints and those left on jewellery boxes at the scene 26 years ago. He was jailed for 12 years.
“It does give us some sense of closure,” Mr Hardy, now 58, said. I’m glad he has been caught after all this time.
“The sentence was totally appropriate for a crime of that sort.”
Rhodes and an accomplice entered the shop in the morning of July 10, 1986, posing as jewellery professionals keen on buying stock. Owner Mr Hardy was on holiday but his mother Irene and father Alan were covering there for the week.
One of the men asked to see the fashion jewellery kept upstairs, but when Irene went to show him he produced the shotgun and held it up to her.
Plucky Husband Alan managed to fight off the gunman and bravely chased the men out of the shop. But Mr Hardy said although Rhodes left empty handed, the emotional impact inflicted on his parents was immeasurable.
“It turned them into recluses,” he said. “They actually physically stopped going out after that, it was very strange.”
Mr Hardy said the incident also made customers afraid to return to Jeanian, which was at he time one of the largest jewellery wholesalers in the East Midlands.
He said: “It virtually ruined the business, it frightened a lot of people away.
“We carried on with a select few customers, we got enough to make a living, but we moved premises and we had to stop advertising.”
Jeanian jewellers closed three years ago and Mr Hardy, who lives in Derby, now runs a car dealership.
But he said for the remainder of his time as a jeweller, the fear of another raid played on his mind.
“You re always watching your back,” he added. “But I don’t think there are many jewellers that have not had an attack from somebody.”
Mr Hardy praised the perseverance of DC Mike Stott, whose police investigation after the fingerprint match was found lasted 18 months, from June 2011 to December 2012.
DC Stott, speaking to the News this week, said: “It was a long investigation and quite difficult to track down the original witnesses. It was difficult but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.
“Personally I am relieved it’s over because it’s a job I have had for a long time. I am happy for the Hardy family because they have got some closure.”
He paid tribute to the work of fingerprints expert Daniel Redden. “Without his help the case wouldn’t have gotten to court.
“Fingerprint technology is developing all the time,” he said. “ I think we will see more cases like this.”
“Twelve years is a significant sentence for a 65-year-old man.”