A JEWELLER was brutally attacked and tied up during a “calculated and professional” raid on a family business.

Robbers Michael Curley and Malcolm Jones repeatedly punched the owner of B&H Jewellers in Spennymoor, before grabbing him by the throat, pulling his jumper over his head and bundling him into a back room.

Durham Crown Court heard how Curley shouted to Jones “just keep punching until you knock him out,” while Jones threatened to break the terrified victim’s jaw.

The pair, both from Murton, then ransacked the shop, making off with £36,000-worth of jewellery and more than £6,000 in cash.

Jailing the two men, Recorder Simon Jackson said: “This was not a quick smash-and-grab. A lot of time and effort went into planning this. It was a calculated raid on a premise to recover as much as you could.”

Robin Turton, prosecuting, described how Curley, 38, and Jones, 27, targeted the business, on Spennymoor High Street, at 4.45pm on January 25, when the victim was preparing to close. With hats pulled down over their faces, they forced their way behind the counter and waged a brutal and sustained attack on the shopkeeper.

Mr Turton said: “Curley took hold of him by the throat while the smaller one, Jones, continued to punch him. Curley kept saying just keep punching until you knock him out. To which [the victim] said there is no need for that, just take what you want.”

At one point during the struggle the victim grabbed hold of a sink, but he was pulled with such force it came away from the wall. Armed with duct tape, the men then tied him up, with one robber further restraining the victim by sitting on his ribs, while the other looted the shop.

Along with jewellery and cash, the victim’s mobile phone and a business case containing documents, a cheque book and bank cards were stolen.

Locked in the back room, the victim shouted for help and was rescued by a neighbouring shopkeeper who found him “covered in blood and visibly shaken and upset.”

He was left with a black eye, severe bruising and cuts. His business also took a great hit as he had to close the shop for seven weeks, missing out on £10,700 in takings. A further £12,000 had to be spent on new security measures, and while the unrecovered jewellery was insured the business’ premiums are likely to rise.

Curley, of Short Grove, Murton, was arrested days after the robbery at the Premiere Inn in Belmont, near Durham. Small items of jewellery were discovered in the room, along with £9,000 stashed behind the toilet cistern.

Jones, of Matthews Road, Murton, was arrested at a property in Spennymoor shortly afterwards.

Glen Gatland, for Curley, and Neil Bennett, who represented Jones, both said their clients had expressed “genuine remorse" and had pleaded guilty at an early opportunity.

Mr Bennett said Jones was a heroin addict, adding: “He hopes to use his time in prison productively so he can look forward to bringing about meaningful changes to his life when he is released.”

Mr Gatland said Curley suffered from severe carpal tunnel and was unable to work. He said the cancellation of a hospital appointment had caused benefit problems, adding: “The family built up significant debts, were unable to pay the rent and were at risk of losing their home.”

Recorder Jackson described Curley as a “professional criminal” and jailed him for six years. A suspended sentence imposed last May for a series of farm burglaries was also activated, adding a further 12 months to the sentence. Curley received an additional six months for another farm burglary in Northumberland last November, bringing his total term of imprisonment to 7.5 years.

Jones, who is less heavily convicted, was jailed for five years.