Four sentenced after watch theft

FOUR men have been sentenced after an expensive watch was stolen from a Harrogate jeweller.

Malcolm Graham McCallum, 25, of Vesper Road, Leeds, and Joseph John McCormick, 26, of Foster Square, Leeds, Billy John Robert Simpson, 19, and Joseph Stephen Cathro, 55, both of Cragside Walk, Leeds, appeared at York Crown Court on Wednesday.

The court heard McCormick drove Simpson and McCallum to Harrogate in his Vauxhall Astra on July 14 this year, just after 1pm.

Once there, McCallum went into H Samuel in Cambridge Street and asked for the heaviest gold bracelet in the shop. Staff became suspicious and he left empty-handed.

A short time later, he entered Ernest Jones in James Street, while Simpson waited outside, and asked about to-of-the-range watches. A shop assistant showed him some of the stock and he tried on a watch worth £6,840.

McCallum then called out to Simpson to run away and the pair left the scene, meeting McCormick at the car.

Reading a victim impact statement from her, The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, said: “The shop assistant has been significantly affected by the events that took place that day.”

The following day, police number plate recognition devices picked up the vehicle in London. McCallum and Cathro were seen going into the Royal Exchange shopping centre and asking if they could sell a watch.

The car was then stopped by police nearby with all four defendants inside and the stolen watch was recovered.

The court heard three of the defendants - McCallum, McCormick and Simpson - had long records with convictions for a range of offences. McCallum also asked the judge to take four other thefts into consideration, which had taken place between June 29 and October 12.

In mitigation, each of their barristers said the case should not be treated as the most serious because there had been no threat or use of force against the shop assistant when the watch was stolen.

But Judge Stephen Ashurst sentenced each to nine months in prison or, in Simpson’s case, in a young offenders’ institute, stating the planning, high value and significant criminal records meant it was a serious case. He sentenced Cathro to six months in prison suspended for two years, crediting him for his otherwise clean record and saying he had been “easily led” into his part in the theft.