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'Unrelentingly brutal' gang jailed for Newham 'robbery rampage' violence

PUBLISHED: 15:06 07 December 2015 | UPDATED: 16:16 09 December 2015

Two men attack the victim, now on the ground, with a baseball bat. Picture: MPS

Two men attack the victim, now on the ground, with a baseball bat. Picture: MPS

MPS

A gang of five men who carried out "terrifyingly violent" attacks in a week-long robbery "rampage", inflicting lasting injuries on their victims, have been jailed for more than 43 years between them.

A gang of five men who carried out “terrifyingly violent” attacks in a week-long robbery “rampage”, inflicting lasting injuries on their victims, have been jailed for more than 43-years between them.

The armed thugs targeted lone men walking home around the Upton Park, East Ham and Forest Gate areas – on one occasion straying into Stepney Green – over a five-day period in March.

During their violent spree they savagely assaulted seven men, often beginning the mauling with a blow to the back of their victims’ head using a baseball bat.

Usamah Aftab. Picture: MPSUsamah Aftab. Picture: MPS

In once such brutal attack they left the victim with fractures to the face and skull, another with a fractured neck. At times they fled with nothing more than a single Oyster card.

All five members of the gang were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to conspiracy to rob.

Yusuf Akram, 18, of Sewell Street, Plaistow, was handed an eight-year jail term as well as a £1,000 fine for being in possession of an offensive weapon at the time of his arrest. Usamah Aftab, 18, of Lucas Avenue, Plaistow, was given ten years.

Yusuf Akrram. Picture: MPSYusuf Akrram. Picture: MPS

Mohamed Ibrahim, 18, of Whyteville House, Forest Gate, was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Such was the ferocity of the attacks, the judge agree to lift a ban on identifying two teenage members of the gang.

Thamid Zahman, 17, was sentenced to eight years in jail while Hamzah Jawyd, also 17, was given eights years and six months.

Hamzah Jawyd. Picture: MPSHamzah Jawyd. Picture: MPS

In addition, judge William Kennedy deemed Akram, Aftab, Jawyd and Zahman as dangerous offenders and sentenced them to extended sentences of two-years each, which means they will be subject to further restrictions in addition to their custodial sentence.

Det Ch Insp Jamie Piscopo said: “These were serious acts of violence and a clear example of a gang going on the rampage.

“I honestly believe they would have continued and eventually killed someone if they had not been apprehended. One victim pretended to be dead in a desperate attempt to get the gang to cease their unrelenting attack.”

Thamid Zahman. Picture: MPSThamid Zahman. Picture: MPS

“The gang were calculated and brutal in their planning, using a car to drop off members of the group to inflict terrifyingly violent robberies before moving on to a new patch.

“I would like to praise the bravery of the witnesses who came forward and helped investigators piece together the actions and movements of these disgracefully dangerous individuals.

“Such was the level of violence that the Judge in this case deferred sentencing to a later date to allow him time to consider the sentence term. The custodial sentences handed down today have removed five very dangerous individuals from society.”

Mohamed Ibrahim Ali. Picture: MPSMohamed Ibrahim Ali. Picture: MPS

The group struck between the hours of 8pm and midnight, carrying out robberies in Harold Road, Blenheim Road, Henniker Gardens, Elmhurst Road, Creighton Avenue and Strone Road in Newham and Cressy Place in Tower Hamlets.

CCTV footage, released by the Met, of the attack in Creighton Avenue shows the callousness and level of violence used by the men. In it they can be seen stopping the victim, 36, before walking on past him then turning to chase after him.

One man is seen pulling out a baseball bat and beginning the assault with a hard swipe, forcing the victim to the ground before continuing to beat him along with another gang member in a frenzied 20-second attack on the empty street.

The victim was in hospital for over four weeks and still remains unwell, according to police. The gang took off with just two mobile phones, a bunch of keys and a wallet containing just £15.

Just 40 minutes later they struck again on Strone Road, fracturing the neck of their next victim by knocking him unconscious as he listened to music on his headphones. His mobile phone, bank card, a quantity of cash and Oyster card were stolen in the robbery.

The group was caught following an investigation of CCTV footage and DNA evidence, including the seizing of the suspects clothing which was found to be stained with their victims’ blood.

Fingerprint evidence and the recovery of some items stolen in the robberies from defendants’ homes were also used in the case against the gang.

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