July 25 2014 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Senior reporter
Friday, April 25, 2014
A man has been jailed for his part in a gang who violently robbed a jewellers shop in Seven Kings.
A gang of masked men got away with thousands of pounds of jewellery when they smashed their way into Asha, in High Road, with sledgehammers in 2012.
Gheorghita Purice, 21, a Romanian of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob at the Old Bailey and was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday.
When he is released he will be deported.
Last year 10 men were jailed for a combined 82 years for the robbery along with a string of others in Birmingham and Kent.
But the Metropolitan Police said the raids did not stop with the convictions and continued until February 2013.
The investigation exposed an international crime ring behind the spree and Purice was tracked down with the help of Europol.
He had been arrested in May 2012 for a similar robbery in Belgium and came back to the UK months later.
Police were able to link him to three of the robberies in 2012 and early 2013.
The gang used similar tactics in all the attacks, dressing a member up in a smart suit or even as a woman to gain shopkeepers’ trust and let the others in.
In April 2012, staff at Asha in Seven Kings let in a man wearing a smart grey suit.
But he then pulled a balaclava down over his face and put on a pair of gloves and four more men wearing baseball caps and hoodies flooded in.
Gurbachan Sadheurah, who was in the shop, said he thought the man was holding the door open for his wife and children.
Mr Sadheurah said: “Four youths came running in and started smashing the inside glass door with a sledgehammer.
“I went to push the panic button, but I was frightened and froze.
“Then my wife came and pulled me into the back of the shop.”
The incident lasted for less than a minute – enough time for the men to get away with £250,000 of gold jewellery from the smashed glass display cabinets.
After escaping they buried the jewellery in pre-dug trenches.
Det Sgt Andrew McGuire of the Flying Squad said: “Gheorghita Purice is part of a large group of Romanian men who have committed robberies across Europe, often being armed with hammers, firearms and stun grenades.
“Many of the group are now in custody across the continent awaiting sentencing for their part in offences in Italy, France, The Netherlands, Austria and Belgium.”
The driver of a Vauxhall Corsa which smashed into the barriers near the Moby Dick junction of the A12 has been arrested after one of his passengers died in the collision.