A 23-YEAR-OLD Oldbury man has been jailed for 10 years for his role as part of a masked, armed gang who smashed their way into a jewellery shop using a lorry before escaping with £85,000 worth of gems.

A security guard working inside the shop was narrowly pulled out of the path of the lorry and he could have been killed if he had been pinned against a wall by the heavy vehicle.

Judge Michael Challinor said the gang who used sledgehammers to shatter display cases had shown a "complete disregard" for the safety of people working inside the Cape Hill premises.

He said the gang caused £80,000 damage during the terrifying raid as they repeatedly reversed the lorry into the front of the shop and none of the stolen jewellery had been recovered by police.

The judge told Kashaun Heath, of Landswood Road, it was clearly a well-planned robbery and "significant force" had been used to threaten and intimidate the shop staff.

“I am satisfied you are dangerous and that you pose a serious risk of future harm to members of the public,” he told Heath – a former university drama student.

“This was a wicked offence and you know it,” he added at Wolverhampton Crown Court – a crime aggravated by Heath’s previous conviction for robbery when he was sentenced to three years.

Heath admitted robbery with the judge warning him he would face another "stern" sentence should he return to crime on his release from custody.

The judge said the family who had run the jewellery business for ten years had been so badly affected by the robbery that they were now giving serious consideration to shutting up shop.

"In my judgement this truck was being used as a weapon," he went on. "It must have been very terrifying for those people inside this shop."

Neil Ahuja, prosecuting, told the court the shop was targeted by the gang who wore dark clothing and masks and they had a stolen Audi on stand-by as their getaway car – a vehicle later found abandoned.

Heath, he added, was arrested after police found blood on a broken piece of glass and he was tracked down through DNA testing.

Ben Williams, defending, said Heath maintained he had been intimidated by a "notorious" local man into taking part in the robbery and he had played no part in the pre-planning.

"He had the misfortune to cut himself while the others who played a much more significant role have remained at large," said Mr Williams.

Heath who was with at least four accomplices had shown great remorse since his arrest and it was his aim to put his life back on track when he was released from prison.