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Masked gunman botches robbery after barmaid recognises his voice

A masked gunman was stopped in his tracks after the barmaid he was robbing recognised his voice.

Luke Jones, 29, had been a customer of the snooker club in Bargoed, south Wales, before he stormed in at around 11.15pm, armed with a handgun.

Barmaid Yvette Smith said she ‘honestly thought’ she was going to die when he pointed the weapon at her head – and after recognising his voice, she asked him: ‘Why are you doing this to me Luke?’

CCTV of the attack then showed Jones lowering his gun and taking off his balaclava before enveloping her in a hug.

He then attempted to prove to her that the gun wasn’t real, telling her that he had only been ‘joking’.

Prosecutor Heath Edwards told Cardiff Crown Court: ‘Ms Smith was particularly fearful of guns as one of her family took his own life with a firearm.

‘Jones would have known this as she had told him about it.’

Ms Smith had previously grown suspicious of Jones after he had asked her about her cashing up procedure, before attempting his robbery on December 27.

In a statement, she told the court she had been ‘absolutely petrified and completely distraught’ during the attack.

She continued: ‘I used to feel confident working in a busy valleys snooker club. I honestly thought the gun was real and that I was going to be killed.

‘Last night as I tried to go to sleep, every time I closed my eyes, I saw a gun in my face. I am crying all the time. I honestly thought I was going to die. I do not know if I can ever work in the bar again.’

After the attempted robbery, Jones fled to his father’s home, where he hid in the attic before being found and arrested by police.

He admitted attempted robbery, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and possession of cannabis.

Five months earlier he had also pleaded guilty to possession of heroin with intent to supply and possession of an offensive weapon.

Edward Mitchard, defending, told the court Jones had carried out the ‘impulsive’ attempted robbery in a bid to fund his drug habit.

Describing the botched attempt as ‘farcical’, he noted that Jones had also offered his victim a drink after taking off his balaclava just 12 seconds into the attack.

Jones was given a sentence of eight years behind bars for both sets of his offences.

Judge Michael Fitton QC told him: ‘You were out to get money for drugs. You clearly terrified her [Ms Smith] and she still suffers trauma from the impact of the event.’

Jones was also ordered to pay Ms Smith a victim surcharge, and was made the subject of a 15-year restraining order.