Armed robber is jailed for 10 years for terrifying £630,000 knifepoint raid on celebrity ‘Pearl Queen’ jeweller whose clients include Helen Mirren, Julie Walters and Halle Berry
An armed robber who held a celebrity designer known as the ‘pearl queen’ at knifepoint as he stole £630,000 worth of gems was jailed for 10 years.
Ricky Gray, 40, terrorised Christianne Douglas, her husband and an employee at Coleman Douglas Pearls in Knightsbridge, by threatening to disfigure them with acid.
Gray entered the store in Beauchamp Place, whose clients include Helen Mirren, Julie Walters and Halle Berry, and asked an employee to show him jewellery from a locked cabinet.
With her back turned he pointed a 6-inch kitchen knife and a bottle of what he claimed to be acid, he then demanded to be taken to the safe.
Gray forced Mrs Douglas, her husband and the staff member into her basement on July 9, 2019.
Ricky Gray, 40, entered a Knightsbridge jewellery store owned by Christianne Douglas with a kitchen knife and what he claimed to be a bottle of acid, demanding the be taken to the safe Pictured: Princess Anne’s visit to Mrs Douglas’s London showroom
Ricky Gray robbed Christianne Douglas’s store Coleman Douglas Pearls, in Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge, and made off with pearls worth £630,000
The father-of-two ordered Mrs Douglas to fill up three large bags with pearls worth £630,000 before fleeing.
Prosecutor Rhodri James said: ‘With her back to Mr Gray, he produced a 6-inch kitchen knife and a bottle of what he said was acid, he demanded at that point to be taken to a safe.
‘Mr and Mrs Douglas were met by the defendant who said “go downstairs, I have a knife and acid”, he demanded to know where safe was and to have access to it.
‘To his disappointment there was no cash in the safe as they only accept card payments.
‘There was a number of high value jewellery items, he demanded them and the bags, he duly filled three large carrier bags with jewellery and made his way back upstairs and to the shop.
‘As he went up he took two laptops, two mobile phones and Mrs Douglas’s handbag.
‘He tried to get away on a pushbike and as he started frankly he dropped most of the items, which passers-by returned.
‘Because he was on a bike and the police were in a car he was not caught and neither was the knife.
Gray dropped £551,000 worth of jewellery as he rode away from Christianne Douglas’s store Coleman Douglas Pearls (pictured) on his bike
‘Blood was smeared on one of the bags, which matched the DNA of Mr Gray.’
Bungling Gray dropped £551,000 worth of jewellery as he rode away on a bicycle, leaving £80,000 outstanding.
Since the raid Mrs Douglas has closed the shop, leaving three employees out of work.
Her bespoke jewellery and designs have featured in Hollywood movies including the 2005 film Match Point, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Scarlett Johansson.
Princess Anne once visited her London showroom in her capacity as Patron of UK Fashion Exports and her jewellery has also graced the pages of Vogue, Tatler and Vanity Fair.
In an impact statement Mrs Douglas said: ‘The robbery was a real shock and changed my entire perspective on feeling safe, I realised my business was susceptible to planned acid and knife attacks.’
Despite closing her shop Mrs Douglas continues to sell jewellery on a ‘recommendation only’ basis, the court heard.
A week before the robbery, on July 2, Gray threatened to pour a bottle of acid on the female boss at a Chinese supermarket and stole her handbag containing takings worth £710.
He admitted the robbery after leaving his fingerprints on an envelope.
Gray was jailed for eight years after he stole some £250,000 of diamonds from the founder of Petplan, Patsy Bloom (pictured)
A month later on 9 August he used a hammer to smash the window of elderly Phillipa Jackson’s home on Essex Road.
Ms Jackson screamed at the sound of breaking class and he damaged the bonnet of a car running away before being arrested nearby with a hammer.
Convicted robber Gray had been out of jail on licence for 26 days when his latest crime spree began in July 2019.
In November 2012, Gray was handed an eight year extended sentence after confronting businesswoman Patsy Bloom, then 72, after she stepped out of the shower.
He screamed at her ‘Give me everything you’ve got,’ before frogmarching her to her safe in her £3.5million home overlooking London’s Regent’s Park.
Gray escaped with a £250,000 haul, including a £68,000 pair of 18-carat white gold earrings and a £19,000 diamond pendant after the raid in May that year.
Miss Bloom, who netted £16million with the sale of animal insurer Petplan, was left ‘extremely shaken’ after the raid.
Gray, who also uses alias Panagiotis Themistocleous, also has previous convictions for violent disorder in 2001, another robbery in 2002 and 20 theft offences.
Judge Murray Shanks said: ‘These are not well planned robberies but they are very serious, the knife, the bottles containing what you claimed was acid are very serious matters.
‘I take on board that there should be no double counting, that you have never caused serious physical harm and that there have been problems with drugs in the past, although it seems you go back to them.
‘And there is some element of bizarre behaviour which you have excited in the past and in the courts.’
Gray’s prison video-link had to be muted throughout proceedings as he continued to rant and wave his arms around.
He could be heard addressing Judge Shanks as ‘my brudda,’ swearing and talking about the Illuminati, The Queen and Rita Ora.
Gray also tried to dismiss his defence barrister at one point before changing his mind.
Currently held at Highpoint Prison in Suffolk, he admitted two counts of robbery, possession of a bladed article, attempted burglary and criminal damage.
He was sentenced to ten years with an extended licence period of four years and will not be considered for release by the Parole Board until he has served at least two thirds of his sentence.