BY YANN TEAR
Two men from Shepherd’s Bush and three from Fulham were among 12 members of an organised crime group who have been jailed after carrying out multiple robberies on mopeds.
The gang – all men – were sentenced to a total of 67 years and 10 months’ imprisonment at Kingston Crown Court on Monday for a string of robberies.
The convictions came as a result of a 12-month police investigation led by the Met’s Trident Proactive Team.
The court heard how between November 2017 and June 2018, the gang were responsible for 16 offences across south and west London boroughs.
Most offences were committed at night and the defendants rode motorcycles and used vehicles which were either stolen or had their number plates removed.
The gang’s professional offending meant they left almost no physical evidence behind and usually wore motorcycle helmets in an attempt to avoid identification.
Josh Strong-Myers, 20, of Loftus Road, previously pleaded guilty to attempted theft, going equipped to steal, criminal damage to a police car, dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified, possession of an offensive weapon and conspiracy to steal (cameras).
He was also found guilty of two further counts of robbery and possession of an offensive weapon on October 5 last year. Strong-Myers was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.
Aaron Pask, 27, of Westway, was previously found guilty of conspiracy to burgle and conspiracy to steal on January 4, and conspiracy to steal on February 1.
He was sentenced to six years and eight months’ imprisonment.
Omar Tafat, 22, of John Smith Avenue, Fulham, previously pleaded guilty to attempted theft, going equipped to steal, criminal damage to a police car and breach of a criminal behaviour order.
He was also found guilty of two further counts of robbery and possession of an offensive weapon on October 5 last year. Tafat was sentenced to eight years and five months’ imprisonment.
Terry Marsh, 32, of Vanston Place, Fulham, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to burgle on September 11, last year. He was sentenced to 13 years and two months’ imprisonment.
Ryan Moran 26 of Hazelbury Road, Fulham, was handed a 24-month suspended sentence. He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal, conspiracy to burgle and handling stolen goods on September 11.
The Met launched an investigation – named Operation Fieldhouse – into the organised crime group in February 2018 following an increase in violent robberies across the capital, which involved mopeds.
This included a moped robbery from uniformed officers on Lillie Road, Fulham in November 2017.
Officers came across the moped, which was identified as stolen. Whilst waiting for it to be recovered, the suspects approached the officers, discharged two powdered fire extinguishers as a distraction and stole the moped.
As a result of several months of meticulous work and surveillance, key members of the organised crime group were identified.
The police investigation established that the gang were responsible for the theft of approximately £40,000 worth of stock during two ram raids at the same clothing shop in Kensington High Street.
During the first incident on December 31, 2017 the group used a stolen Range Rover to break into the store. The defendants stole two high value coats before abandoning the vehicle and fleeing on motorbikes.
The second incident took place on January 30 last year, where three mopeds rammed the front of the shop to gain entry at 1.30am. Four suspects entered the store holding planks of wood, which they used to assault a security guard. As the gang members stole items of clothing, the security guard managed to escape and find safety in a nearby taxi where police were alerted.
The offenders made off with a number of items of clothing. The gang were also responsible for the attempted theft of a media camera that was fixed to Putney Bridge on March 22 last year to film the Oxford v Cambridge boat race. The suspects attended on mopeds and attempted to remove the camera using an angle grinder but were unsuccessful.
On May 7 last year at about 3.15pm Tafat and Strong-Myers were involved in an attempted knifepoint moped robbery in Dolphin Street, Kingston.
A police helicopter identified the suspects riding two mopeds in the area and an immediate police pursuit began with police vehicles on the ground. During the pursuit both suspect mopeds exceeded speed limits, ignored red traffic signals and rode through parks, including Shepherd’s Bush Green, and other pedestrian areas.
The two men, who had a third member of the convicted gang with them, were detained and arrested in Ealing by police following a 90 minute pursuit which ran through 10 London boroughs.
Officers discovered a hammer, screwdriver, angle grinder and large knife underneath the seat cover of one of the mopeds.
Marsh was involved an attempted robbery in Sandpits Road, Richmond, on June 21 last year. The incident involved four suspects who made their way on motorbikes to Staunton Road, Kingston where they stole number plates from a parked vehicle.
Both motorbikes then made their way to Sandpits Road, where two pillion passengers got off the bikes and approached a female victim who was walking hand in hand with her three-year-old son.
They demanded jewellery whilst threatening to harm the boy if she did not comply. The victim, however, grabbed her child and ran backwards into traffic in an attempt to escape. At this point, the occupants of a lorry exited the vehicle and chased the suspects away.
Marsh was later identified as one of four suspects. In the early hours of July 19 last year, the police investigation culminated in a series of search warrants in relation to these moped-related crimes.
Detective Inspector Andy Durham, who led the investigation, said: “Operation Fieldhouse was a painstaking investigation which sought to apprehend violent moped criminals.
“Following months of hard work and dedication carried out by my officers, the organised crime group responsible for a series of dangerous offences across London have been brought to justice.
“They terrified their victims during a number of calculated and violent ordeals and will now spend a significant amount of time behind bars. “In addition to the pain and distress they caused to so many innocent people over the past two years, the cost of their crime spree is estimated to be approximately half a million pounds.
“I hope today’s sentencing highlights that criminality of this kind will not be tolerated in London. We will continue to work tirelessly around the clock to apprehend those involved in these types of offences and bring them before the courts.”