THE have-a-go-hero who rugby tackled a hammer-wielding robber said he is glad to see him behind bars.
Thanks to members of the public Jimmy Stringer didn’t get far after a smash-and-grab raid on a jewellery shop.
Yesterday Stringer was jailed for five years and three months at Oxford Crown Court.
The 23-year-old Londoner and his gang terrified staff by breaking the windows of the Michael Jones jewellery store with hammers, before stealing more than £100,000 worth of watches on September 11.
He arrived with three accomplices, one of whom was carrying a sledgehammer, on two mopeds and tried to escape on foot along Banbury High Street.
Ali Shehan, 50, from Banbury, heard shouts and saw Stringer bearing down on him.
“The guy came running at me and had a hammer in his hand,” he said.
“Everybody was behind him and chasing but he was fast. I don’t think anybody would have caught up with him.
“But I saw him coming, and I saw the smoke coming out of the shop, so I went and tackled him.
“Luckily he landed on his face and I went onto my back. He was very strong.
“I’m very happy he’s gone to prison. These people shouldn’t be on the streets. I’m glad he got five years but it should have been more.
“It was horrible; there was a 19-year-old girl working in that shop. How is she going to feel for the rest of her life?”
Other members of the public also tried to stop Stringer, including former Albanian police officer Rremzi Skepi, 55, who picked up a metal advertising sign and hurled it at one of the suspects.
When Mr Shehan managed to wrestle Stringer to the ground he was helped by Mr Skepi, despite shouted threats that they would end up “dead” for stopping him. They pinned him down for seven minutes until police arrived.
Jonathan Stone, prosecuting, told the court that although the damage to the shop’s windows had been caused by other members of the gang, Stringer had still acted in a way that had terrified the shop’s staff.
He said: “He did take the hammer in as well and, although it wasn’t used, had the opportunity arisen it is likely he would have used it to help him escape.”
He added that a DNA profile had been retrieved from the scene and it was possible that further arrests in the case will follow.
Defence barrister William Woodman said the raid had been “unsophisticated” and said Stringer, of Popham Road, Islington, had financial problems.
He added: “There is no suggestion the hammer he carried was waved at anyone or used to threaten anyone.”
Judge Patrick Eccles noted that the defendant had already been given a three-year sentence for trying to break into another jewellers at night.
He said: “This was a determined smash and grab raid on a high street jewellers.
“And it failed only because of the courage and presence of mind, not only of those working in the shop, but also a number of members of the public.”
In total the gang caused around £30,000 worth of damage to the jewellers and its merchandise.
The three other members of the group remain at large.