Dorset

Samurai-wielding gang guilty of Bournemouth jewellery raid

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Media captionOne of the robbers drove a moped into the jewellers

A sword-wielding gang who threatened to behead a security guard have been convicted of carrying out a £600,000 jewellery robbery.

The robbers struck at the Franses shop in Bournemouth in March.

The gang was identified when one member was caught on a self-service-till camera as he bought wet wipes.

Rowan McLaughlin, 31, Jonathan Oriba, 27, and Sophie Rivers, 29, were found guilty of conspiracy to rob at Southampton Crown Court.

Sasha Hines, 52, who stood trial on the the same charge, was acquitted.

Four men had previously pleaded guilty to the same charge. All seven will be sentenced on 28 November.

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Clockwise from top left: Akil Ford, Rhys Gregg-Ball, Darrius Ingram, Jonathan Oriba, Rowan McLaughlin and Shahid Sharif
Image caption Former Home Office employee Sophie Rivers concocted an alibi for her boyfriend Shahid Sharif

Masked raiders rode stolen mopeds into the store at 12:00 GMT on 14 March before using a sledgehammer to smash open cases of high-value jewellery.

Jurors watched CCTV from the two-minute robbery showing the assailants shouting they had acid and threatening to behead a security guard.

A high-speed police chase ensued but the raiders escaped, the court heard.

Gang 'caught by self-service till'

A camera on a supermarket self-service till led to identification of the first gang member eight days after the robbery, police have said.

Police tracked one of the raiders to a branch of Asda in Bournemouth where he bought wet wipes.

The Metropolitan Police identified him as Akil Ford, 27, from the till picture. His DNA was later found on a discarded wipe.

Communication records led to the identification of other gang members.

Prosecutor Tim Bradbury told the trial the decision to rob in broad daylight meant "the stakes were high" and it "certainly was not the perfect crime".

The court was told Oriba had been in a nearby getaway car "waiting for the loot" as the robbery unfolded, while McLaughlin provided his Bournemouth home as a base for the gang.

Former Home Office employee Rivers concocted an alibi for her boyfriend Shahid Sharif, 27, who was among the armed group.

Ford, Rhys Gregg-Ball, 27, Darrius Ingram, 26, and Sharif - all from London - had admitted conspiracy to rob before the trial.

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

Ingram, who wielded the sword, was wearing an electronic tag after being bailed over another jewellery shop raid in London, police said.

Det Sgt Garry Knight, of Dorset Police, said: "This incident has had a devastating and long-lasting impact on the store owners and its staff and I hope the verdict of the jury will go some way to help them begin to rebuild their lives."

Another suspect, Kalan Williamson, 26, from London, remains at large.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Police are still looking for Kalan Williamson

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