An armed mugger has been jailed for 10 years after attempting to rob two Arsenal footballers of luxury watches worth £200,000.
Harrow Crown Court heard that Ashley Smith and his accomplice did not count on the bravery of Bosnian defender Sead Kolasinac, in fighting back.
His teammate Mesut Ozil then drove them from the ambush as the would-be robbers pursued them on a stolen moped and threw stones, the court heard.
Smith, 30 – who was described by judge Ian Bourne QC as a prolific “career criminal” who was well known to police – was out on licence for a 42-month sentence for burglary in 2017 when he tried to carry out the street robbery on the Arsenal stars.
He had been released in connection with a burglary offence in January.
Smith, of Archway, north London, had previously pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery just feet from Kolasinac’s home in Hampstead, north west London, on July 25.
The judge said Smith, who appeared in court by videolink, had a “leading role” in the “very serious” attempted robbery with Jordan Northover, 26.
The would-be robbers used a stolen moped, were dressed in helmets and dark clothing to try and conceal their identities.
Smith and Northover had been circling the area and on the look-out for a victim when they targeted the players.
Full-back Kolasinac, 26, had arranged to meet Ozil, 30, who was in a car with his newlywed wife, the court heard.
The judge said that Kolasinac, nicknamed The Tank, “must have been terrified by the events which took place immediately outside his house”.
Smith and Northover were “armed and dangerous” and were using a knitting needle and a pointed screwdriver as weapons, according to the judge.
He said: “Between them they produced these weapons which they threatened Mr Kolasinac with, a long pointed blade which was thrust in the victim’s direction and made contact with him.
“The two of them had not counted on Mr Kolasinac fighting back and he behaved incredibly bravely.”
At this point Mr Kolasinac may have felt the robbers would have done “anything they needed to obtain the watches”, the judge noted.
The weapons were described as a 10-12 inch long screwdriver with a thin steel coloured spike and a smaller darker instrument that was probably about six inches long.
The court heard that footage showed Mr Kolasinac attempting to engage with the culprits, but he was able to get in the car which was then driven away by Ozil.
The judge noted: “But that was not the end of it. The two men pursued the car along the high road and attempted to stop the vehicle, throwing stones at the car.”
The players managed to flee, but the stones caused “significant” vehicle damage.
The judge added that “fortunately for justice” an alert member of the public later saw the moped being parked in Boreham Wood and called police.
Officers were able to trace the defendants and arrest them.
The judge stated that Smith has “an appalling criminal record” of 20 convictions from 38 offences dating back to when he was 14 years old.
Assault, theft, burglary, driving without a licence and breaching a community order are among some of the offences.
Defence lawyer Susan Meek told the court that Smith had described the ambush as “a scummy thing to do and that when he takes drugs these are the things he ends up doing”.
Smith was also ordered to pay £181 in a victim surcharge.
Northover is to be sentenced at a later date which has yet to be set.