September 17 2014 Latest news:
by Rory Brigstock-Barron
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Convictions add to borough’s smash and grab robbery shame
A burkha-clad gang who stole £1.5million worth of jewellery from Selfridges in Oxford Street have been sentenced to a total of 58 years in prison.
At least five Islington men were part of the 10-strong posse who stormed into the store’s Wonder Room in broad daylight wearing the Islamic dress in June 2013.
Shoppers were left “cowering in fear” and “fleeing in panic” as the gang used sledgehammers and axes to smash cabinets and make off with 142 Rolex, Gucci and Tiffany watches.
The group were said to be posing as rich middle-eastern women and mingling with other customers before carrying out the audacious heist.
Brothers Connor Groake, 25, and Sam Curtin, 20, were caught when they were tackled by pedestrians after crashing their moped and police later arrested Kris Monaghan, 25, Ritchie Graham, 24 and Ian Rawlings, 31.
The raid is thought to be one of a dozen smash and grabs involving Islington suspects since 2011.
Speaking to the Gazette previously, Det Insp Bob Currie said: “I don’t know why it’s a problem in Islington. The close proximity of the borough to the West End makes it easier for them to carry out smash-and-grab raids and get away. The difference when suspects are on motorbikes is that it can endanger the safety of the public, because they ride on pedestrianised areas to get away from police cars in pursuit, which puts people in danger.
“It is also much harder for us chasing them – it makes it more difficult to catch them.”
Other smash and grab raids credited to criminals from Islington include a motorbike gang convicted of targeting a series of luxury West End shops, including the Apple store in Regent Street, and a raid by three men who made off with a motorbike load of designer bikinis.
Two brothers from King’s Cross were also charged and await trial in connection with a raid at five-star hotel The Dorchester, in Mayfair, on June 10.
Monaghan and Graham, of Southgate Road, were both found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery at the Selfridges Wonder Room.
Graham was given a 15-year jail term and Monaghan, who pleaded guilty to the offence in January, was given a 10-year sentence.
Rawlings, of Warley House, Mitchison Road, pleaded guilty to the Selfridges robbery and was jailed for 10 years, alongside the others, at Kingston Crown Court on Monday.
He also received a further eight-year sentence to run concurrently for his involvement in a raid in which a gang smashed their way in to a luxury watch shop at Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford in September.
Graham was also involved in a robbery at Robert Gatward Jewellers in Berkshire in April 2013 – for which he received a 12-year sentence to run alongside his 15-year term.
Curtin, of Holloway Road, Holloway, and Groake, of Wheelwright Street, were sentenced to 13 and 10 years respectively at a hearing in July 2013.