Crime

Gang who robbed Bournemouth jewellers using a samurai sword convicted

Members of a gang who conspired to carry out an armed robbery on the Franses and Sons jewellery store on Westover Road in Bournemouth have been found guilty.

Jonathan Oribe, 27 and of no fixed address, Rowan McLaughin, 31 and of Tregonwell Close in Bournemouth, and Sophie Rivers, 29 and of Church Lane in Tooting, London, were all convicted of conspiracy to rob following a trial at Southampton Crown Court.

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A 52 year-old woman from Bournemouth was not found guilty of the same offence.

Four other London gang members- Darrius Ingram, 26 and of Oxford Gardens in North Kensington, Rhys Gregg-Ball, 27 and of Hazel Grove, Sydenham, Shahid Sharif, 27 and of Church Lane in Tooting, and Aktil Tariq Ford, 27 and of Powis Terrace in Westbourne Green- had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob at previous hearings.

All defendants who were convicted or entered guilty pleas will be sentenced at the same court on 28 November.

At around 12pm on 14 March 2019, Sharif, Ingram, Ford and a fourth man- who is still at large- travelled to the jewellers on Westover Road, and stole over £600,000 worth of stock.

Dorset Police were alerted to the incident by a member of staff making a 999 call, a nearby store who pressed their panic alarm and members of the public. 

According to the police, armed with a Samurai sword and a bottle of unknown liquid, Ingham threatened the security guard that he would “take off his head” if he did not do what he was told. Tests later showed the liquid contained a strong alkaline, which would have caused damage if it had come into contact with skin.

Ford went inside the store with an accomplice, removed expensive watches and jewellery from the display cabinets inside the store and from the front display windows, by using a sledgehammer. 

Detective Sergeant Garry Knight, of Bournemouth CID, said: “This gang carried out a well-planned operation to target Franses Jewellers. They armed themselves with dangerous weapons in order to terrify staff working at the store and innocent members of the public to enable them to steal a large quantity of watches and jewellery.

“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.”

He added: “I am also confident that these convictions will send out a very stark reminder that Dorset is no soft touch for gangs and offenders. We will use every possible available resource to find you, apprehend you and bring you before the court.”

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