Page last updated at 14:45 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 15:45 UK

Graff guard 'feared for his life' in London robbery

Items of jewellery stolen in the robbery
Staff were forced to hand over items of jewellery at gunpoint

A security guard feared for his life when an armed jewellery thief he was chasing opened fire, Woolwich Crown Court has heard.

Eitan Azulay, guard at Graff's jewellers in Mayfair, central London, said he thought "this is it" as one raider started shooting as he fled.

Aman Kassaye, 24, and Craig Calderwood, 27, are accused of entering Graff's and stealing gems at gunpoint.

A total of nine people deny conspiring to rob the store on 6 August 2009.

Mr Azulay, one of four men employed to protect the jewellers, told the court: "I was scared to death. I couldn't sleep for a month."

The security guard also hit out at suggestions that the raid, in which £40m of jewellery was taken, was an "inside job".

Under cross examination he said the claims were "ridiculous".

'Something stinks'

Mr Azulay, who was working on the door to the jewellers on the day of the raid, said he was immediately suspicious of the men who turned out to be the armed robbers.

I decided that if I was able to tackle them, or at least grab the woman and take her away from them at the price of getting wounded but not killed, it might be worth it
Eitan Azulay

"I felt something was wrong. The first thing that drew my attention was I felt they slightly had make-up on their faces," he told the court.

After the two men walked into the shop, the security guard said he turned and to his colleague outside and said: "Something stinks here, something is wrong."

The security man stayed outside the front of the shop while the armed robbery took place and next saw the armed men as they emerged from the building with a shop assistant.

He told the court that he decided to chase them to the getaway car.

"I decided that if I was able to tackle them, or at least grab the woman and take her away from them at the price of getting wounded but not killed, it might be worth it," he told the court.

But as he ran towards the two men, the one holding the shop assistant let her go, he said.

Puff of smoke

As one of the armed robbers got into the car, he turned towards Mr Azulay and fired.

"I thought, this is it"," he said.

Video footage of Mr Azulay running towards the car was shown to the jury.

A puff of smoke is seen as a gunshot is heard, prompting shoppers to run.

The nine defendants, who all deny conspiracy to rob, are:

Aman Kassaye, 24, of no fixed address

Craig Calderwood, 27, of no fixed address

Solomun Beyene, 25, of Lilestone Street, Marylebone, north-west London

Clinton Jamal Mogg, 42, of Westby Road, Bournemouth, Dorset

Courtney Lawrence, 31, of Ladbroke Grove, west London

Gregory Jones, 30, of Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, west London

Benjamine McFarlane, 22, of Paveley Street, Marylebone, north-west London

David Joseph, 23, of Flaxman Road, Loughborough Junction, south-east London

Thomas Thomas, 45, of Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, south-west London

Mr Kassaye also denies kidnap and possession of a handgun and sawn-off shotgun.

Mr Calderwood also denies possessing a handgun and sawn-off shotgun.

The trial continues.



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