Four men – three of them soldiers from the Grenadier Guards – were responsible for multiple armed robberies across London and Surrey.
Kristopher James-Merrill, 20, of Lyham Road, Brixton, and Dillon Sharpe, 23, of Lovelace Road in Tulse Hill, were both serving soldiers. James-Merill was found guilty, with Sharpe pleading guilty in a separate trial.
Marlon Wright, 25, of Grove Road, Mitcham, was found guilty in the same trial as James-Merrill on the same charges.
Sharpe pleaded guilty alongside another Grenadier Guard, Elnur Bracegirdle from Preston, Lancashire, to 12 robberies and 11 counts of possessing a firearm, while James-Merrill and Wright were found guilty of seven robberies and attempted robberies.
At around 1am on January 10, 2019, Sharpe and Bracegirdle entered a convenience store in Brixton Hill wearing dark clothing.
Sharpe came to the side of the counter and stood in front of the victim, threatening him with a stun gun which was sparking. Sharpe shouted at the victim “open the till”.
The victim opened the till and stepped back. Sharpe then began filling a blue carrier bag with the cash from the till which included notes and coins.
The two men ran away and the victim immediately called the police.
Officers headed in the direction of the robbery and saw two men matching the description of the two suspects who were arrested in possession of the blue bag with a large amount of coins, gloves and the stun gun.
They were taken into custody where Sharpe was identified as being wanted for an earlier series of robberies involving a firearm for which he was due to be arrested.
He was suspected of 11 offences in total, committing four on his own in February and seven in July with accomplices James-Merrill and Wright.
Officers attempted to arrest James-Merrill at his barracks, but he was not there. Knowing that he was wanted, he handed himself in to police at Wandsworth police station.
A search of his home address found an imitation firearm identical to the one used in one of the robberies. DNA from the victim of that offence was found on the firearm.
Wright was subsequently identified as having entered two of the venues that the trio had robbed and walking past a third prior to the robbery taking place.
The prosecutor outlined Wright’s role as reconnaissance and acting as a point of contact for Sharpe to facilitate his escape.
James-Merrill used his vehicle to drive Sharpe to and from the robberies and also entered one of the venues prior to the robbery.
All three defendants will be sentenced on a date to be confirmed.
Detective Sergeant Jamie Witts, from the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “This case is both shocking and somewhat disheartening in that these men who were in positions of responsibility and trust – three of whom have served their country in the armed forces – resorted to targeting hardworking shopkeepers late at night.
“Officers from the Met’s Flying Squad will continue to bear down on anyone committing armed or violent robberies in the capital and bring them to justice.”
Pictured top are Kristopher James-Merrill, left, and Dillon Sharpe