Historic motorbike ban for Islington robbery gang

FIVE members of a gang that made off with �330,000 worth of designer watches in a “smash-and-grab” raid on a West End jewellers have been banned from riding motorbikes and carrying sledgehammers in a legal first.

Kether Whatley, of Clock View Crescent, off North Road, Holloway, Anthony Michael Leader, 20, of Sidmouth Street, King’s Cross, Craig Wallace, 22, of Sussex Way, Upper Holloway, Reed Roberts, 19, of Cubitt Street, King’s Cross, and Mathew Pitt, 26, of Fleet Road, Belsize Park, attacked Ernest Jones on Oxford Street after pulling up on motorbikes.

They used sledgehammers to smash side windows, seizing 46 Breitling and Rolex watches worth �332,010 from terrified staff inside the store.

The robbers were gone in just two minutes but police arrested them later the same day.

The gang members admitted conspiracy to rob in July and are now serving sentences of between four and six years, but now Judge Peter Testar has banned them from riding motorbikes or scooters, carrying tools such as sledgehammers and entering Oxford Street, Bond Street or New Bond Street.

The bans, which had never been used before in such a case, are designed to stop them carrying out further attacks when they are released from prison.

Judge Testar said: “There has been quite a lot of legislation in recent years which is designed to prevent crimes by keeping the defendants away from the sorts of circumstances in which they are likely to commit crimes.”

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He told the court that he was “acutely aware” that the order would reduce theirs liberties.

Lawyers for the five men had argued that the orders were too restrictive, and claimed two members of the group hope to get work as motorcycle couriers when they leave prison.

Jonas Miller, for Leader, said: “When he is released from prison he will be 21.

“He will have a handful of GCSEs and nothing else in the way of work experience.

“He had indicated to you he believes that a way for him to find legitimate work would be a courier.”

The lawyers also argued that a five year order was too long, and would continue to “haunt” the men after they had served their time in prison.

The judge refused to grant an order banning the men from associating with each other, saying it would be too difficult to enforce.

“I think policing association between a number of men is something which would be very difficult to do,” he said.

The judge adjourned confiscation proceedings until January 28 in a bid to find out what happened to the stolen watches.

He said he was not prepared to accept that the money the raiders got for the watches was gone.

“We have got all these Rolexes and Breitling, something has happened to them,” said the judge.

“The point of confiscation is to deprive people of the fruits of their crime. Something has happened to these watches - they haven’t just evaporated.”