TWO men who stormed into a Taunton jewellers in a terrifying daytime raid have been jailed for eight years.

Gary Kamara, 52, and masked Darcy Whiting, 50, targeted Showerings in St James Street in an attempt to steal thousands of pounds worth of jewellery.

The pair attacked an elderly customer but made off empty handed due to the quick-thinking actions of owner Robert Lodge.

Kamara, of Witney, Oxfordshire and Whiting, of Luton, Bedfordshire, both admitted attempted robbery and were jailed at Taunton Crown Court on Friday (April 25).

Judge David Ticehurst said: “You are both career criminals who have spent the large part of your lives committing offences.

“You saw this as an easy opportunity to make money while down in Taunton.

“I give you credit for your guilty pleas, but faced with the overwhelming evidence, in reality you could have done little else.

“You both represent a significant risk to members of the public.”

The drama unfolded shortly after lunchtime on March 1.

Prosecuting, William Hunter said Mr Lodge saw the two culprits as “potential customers” and allowed them into the store.

The court heard how Whiting, wearing a balaclava, and Kamara attacked a 74-year-old man using an object - thought to be a rolled up newspaper - in a sock, but he was unhurt.

Mr Lodge fled to the back room, locked the door and hit the panic alarm, forcing the pair to run off and jump into a getaway car, where they were later arrested on the M4 in Wiltshire.

Somerset County Gazette:

Jailed: Gary Kamara, left, and Darcy Whiting

Brian Healy, defending Kamara, said: “He accepts it is a serious offence with aggravating features. He does not seek to excuse his behaviour in any way.”

Anthony Smith, for Whiting, said: “He could have put the Crown to the test but he didn't - he put his hands up in the beginning."

Mr Smith added: “It should never have happened and there is no doubt this was traumatising for the victims.

“He is thoroughly ashamed of his behaviour. He has let himself and his family down and he now has the pay the consequences.”

Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Lodge said: “It is a good result and I'm pleased that justice has been done.”