Armed robber jailed after string of travel agency hold-ups

Armed robber jailed after string of travel agency hold-ups

A ruthless armed robber has been jailed for 16 years for touring the UK carrying out a string of armed robberies at travel agencies.

Former Armenian karate team coach Hayek Madoyan, 43, entered the UK illegally in 2001 claiming asylum.

Despite being recommended for deportation after twice being caught shoplifting he took up a two-year career as an armed robber terrifying female foreign exchange cashiers from Darlington to Weymouth - stealing £82,500.

He carried out brazen daylight raids on travel agencies with Bureau de Change offices demanding money while he pointed a black pistol.

In some cases the women cashiers bravely refused to hand over cash - other leapt behind metal filing cabinets fearing they would be shot.

He fled to Switzerland in 2008 fearing he would be caught. He was traced and extradited in September 2015 to face the a four-week trial at Hull Crown Court.

Madoyan was convicted of 16 offences, including five charges of robbery, three of attempted robbery and eight of possessing an imitation firearm, between May 30, 2006 and December 8, 2007.

Viktor Gailius, 54, of Northampton, was found guilty of one charge of converting criminal property by sending £9,000 via Western Union to relatives of Madoyan.

He was jailed for nine months. Madoyan showed no emotion or remorse as the jury found him guilty of all 16 offences.

Sentencing Judge David Tremberg told Madoyan he was satisfied that after he had exhausted all means to legally stay in the UK he began a career of crime.

He said: “I am satisfied you were confident you could stay under the radar and against that background began a series of armed robberies.

"There has been evidence you had military experience and you used that to plan your offending in a cool, calm and calculated way.
"You targeted bureau de changes in small travel agencies where you expected to find relatively rich picking and the level of security which was much less than banks and building societies.

“I have no doubt you left a lasting emotional impact on your victims. You risked causing serious emotional harm and have done so.

“You have tried to fight the overwhelming case against you with the same audacity you showed in your crimes. Your defence was more in keeping with crime fiction than  the hard reality that you had been set up by the British security services.”

Prosecutor Ian Mularkey told the jury Madoyan began with an attempted armed robbery at First Choice Travel in Victoria Street West, Grimsby, on May 30, 2006, terrifying bureau de change cashier Victoria Ward.

He handed her a card which read 'This is an armed robbery. Do not talk. Hand over cash'. He produced a pistol and pointed it at her. She flung her body behind a metal safe to avoid being shot and began crying.

On June 19 2006, Madoyan took a black handgun into Co-Operative Travel in High Street, Worcester, not wearing any mask.

He told cashier Sally Brown: “Be quiet. I have a gun. It is loaded.” As Miss Brown took £14,848 out of the cash drawer and pushed it under the counter he demanded: “More!” when she said there was no more he said “wait two minutes” before calling the police.

He was wearing a blue baseball cap with an England motif on it. He made the mistake of throwing it is bushes as he fled. It had his DNA on it.

Gaining in confidence at his next robbery, he produced a gun and wrote: “This is armed robbery. Hand over all the cash” on a Going Places compliment slip at Town Wall, Cardiff, on July 27 2006.

Foreign exchange dealer Rebecca Nielson bravely refused as he said: “Hand it over now.” Ms Nielson said: “I can’t give you the money. It’s not mine.”

He fled discarding the compliment slip and bic pen in a shopping centre bin with his finger prints and handwriting on.

Within minutes he was nearby in a Thomson agency branch in Commercial Street, Newport, where he robbed branch manager Natasha Davies of £5,378.

He produced a handgun and said: “This is a raid. This is serious speak quietly” she began passing over money and when he was told that was all, as the rest was in the safe, he said: “Don’t make me hurt you. I will use this.”

Miss Davies was one of a string of cashiers who remarked on his “wandering right eye which looked off to the left and down”.

He robbed Valerie Lythgoe a travel clerk at Dawson and Sanderson Travel Agents, Darlington, of £10,247. He produced a gun and said: “ssh. I want your cash. No cheques,” on December 15, 2006.

He returned to the South of England on August 31 2007 to attempt to rob Carol Armstrong at Travelcare, in St Mary Street, Weymouth, telling her: “Give me all your money."

He left empty handed after she said he had no money. Instead he went to nearby Bath Travel in St Mary’s Street, Weymouth at 3pm. He unzipped his jacket showing cashier Louise Ford a pistol and said:  "Money. Get money.” and flicked his gun. He said: “No travellers cheques, no change.” He escaped with £30,312.

In his final raid, pregnant Gemma Pattison was left terrified at Thomson agents in High Street, Scunthorpe, on December 8, 2007.
He walked in with a gun and said: “Hand over your money.” She saw he had a gun in his right hand and was petrified. He said “Don’t press any buttons, don’t alarm anyone. He netted £21,812.16.

Madoyan lost an eye while fighting in the Armenia Army and his distinctive droopy eye was immediately remembered by cashiers he robbed.

He only fled back to Europe when police linked the spree of armed robberies to an olive-skinned, man with a lazy prosthetic eye and put his picture on BBCs Crimewatch UK programme in 2008.

Crown barrister Ian Mullarkey told the jury Madoyan he was a brazen liar never disguising his identity and fabricating his involvement with a man called George from MI5.

Speaking after the case, Detective Sgt Gary Peck of the Humberside Police Major Incident team said: “The UK and the countries abroad are a safer place after Madoyan’s arrest.

"Justice has been a long time coming for Madoyan who targeted females in Bureau de Changes across the country.

"We initially started with 31 robberies to look, but because of the passage of time and charging criteria necessary for a conviction decided to present eight to a jury.

"You never forget events if you have been held up by a man with a gun and his trial has forced the women to relive those robberies. Some showed great bravery in dealing with him when you bear in mind he had a gun.”

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