Bournemouth jewellery raid: Beheading threat gang jailed

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Media captionOne of the robbers drove a moped into the jewellers

Members of a sword-wielding gang who threatened to behead a security guard during a jewellery raid have been jailed for between six and 18 years.

They threatened passers-by with ammonia spray during the £600,000 robbery at Franses Jewellers in Bournemouth in March.

Five men admitted conspiracy to rob, while two men and a woman were found guilty at Southampton Crown Court.

Prosecutors described the raid as "organised and violent".

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Clockwise from top left: Akil Ford, Rhys Gregg-Ball, Darrius Ingram, Jonathan Oriba, Rowan McLaughlin and Shahid Sharif

The raid began when a moped was ridden through the closed shop door at about midday on 14 March.

The trial heard gang member Darrius Ingram, who carried the sword, told the guard: "I'll kill you, I'll take your head off."

Shahid Sharif brandished a bottle of ammonia at members of the public, while Akil Ford and Kalan Williamson smashed open cases of jewellery and watches.

Rhys Gregg-Ball and Jonathan Oriba acted as planners and getaway drivers, while Rowan McLaughlin used his Bournemouth home as a base.

Former Home Office executive personal assistant Sophie Rivers concocted an alibi for her boyfriend, Sharif, the court heard.

Ford, Gregg-Ball, Ingram and Sharif previously pleaded guilty, while Kalan Williamson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and failing to appear in court in July at Thursday's hearing.

Oriba, McLaughlin and Rivers were found guilty by a jury.

Image caption Former Home Office employee Sophie Rivers concocted an alibi for her boyfriend Shahid Sharif

Passing sentence, Judge Christopher Parker QC said the "terrorised" shop staff had suffered "substantial psychological harm".

"This was a professionally planned commercial robbery... with dangerous weapons," he added.

Dorset Police said a bag containing goods worth £115,000 was abandoned as the robbers made their escape, but the rest of the loot had not been recovered.

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption CCTV showed raiders with a samurai sword and a bottle of ammonia

The gang was identified after Ford was caught on a shop's self-service till camera buying wet wipes immediately after the raid, police said.

In victim statements, the guard, Tony Annette, said he was "lucky to come out alive", while shop owner Jeff Franses said he was so distraught he had considered closing the fourth-generation family business.

Passer-by Karen Watton said she had experienced fits of crying and panic attacks, including a "total meltdown" when she saw her grandson playing with a plastic sword.

The jail sentences

  • Akil Ford, 27, of Notting Hill, London - 12 years
  • Rhys Gregg-Ball, 27, of Sydenham, London - 12 years and 10 months
  • Darrius Ingram, 26, of North Kensington, London - 11 years
  • Rowan McLaughlin, 31, of Bournemouth - eight years
  • Jonathan Oriba, 27, of no fixed address - 18 years
  • Shahid Sharif, 28, of Tooting, London - 12 years and 10 months
  • Sophie Rivers, 29, of Tooting, London - six years
  • Kalan Williamson, 27, of no fixed address - 16 years and 10 months

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