Armed gang who robbed Stratford shop jailed for 30 years

From left, Thomas O'Connor, Conor Gartland and Alex Parle

From left, Thomas O'Connor, Conor Gartland and Alex Parle - Credit: MPS

A gang who used knives and hammers to raid jewellery shops and cash transfer exchanges, including a shop in Stratford, have been jailed for more than 30 years.

Thomas O’Connor, 23, of Swan Lane, Rotherhithe, was jailed for 12 years and six months at the Old Bailey on Friday.

Conor Gartland, 18, of Druid Street, Southwark, was jailed for eight years while Alex Parle, 22, of Adams Garden Estate, Southwark, was jailed for 10 years.

All three men had already been convicted of conspiracy to rob eight jewellery shops and money transfer exchanges in Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Kensington and Chelsea, City of London, Kent and Manchester at a hearing on November 5.

The court heard how the three men used concrete blocks and hammers to smash through shop windows and cash desk partitions between February 2014 and January 2015.

They then threatened staff with hammers and a machete, stealing cash and watches before making off on stolen motorbikes and mopeds.

The Met has released footage of a raid carried out by the gang on Unistream, in West Ham Lane, Stratford, on December 20 last year, showing Parle and Gartland taking off with £2,392.47.

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One of the men is seen to repeatedly bang a hammer wrapped in a bag on the desk, forcing the cashier’s head back with it, then dragging her along by her hair.

Flying Squad detectives were able to link the offences and identify the culprits by pursuing various lines of enquiry, including forensic analysis of evidence left behind by the gang, such as helmets, a lighter and a knife.

Det Insp Nick Blackburn of the Flying Squad said: “O’Connor and his criminal fraternity committed alarmingly violent robberies from the north to the south of England.

“It was only through the collaborative efforts of the Met’s Flying Squad, City of London Police and Greater Manchester Police that we were able to make the connection and secure convictions.

“These men terrified shop employees, using weapons, aggression and threats in order to get their hands on jewellery and cash.

“There was a display of sheer courage and determination when one of the employees attempted to stop the robbers getting away, but many of the victims now live in fear of another attack.

“I hope that other robbery gangs will look at this case as an example of how police services across the country will work together to ensure they face justice.”

On Friday, December 11, O’Connor and another group of associates were jailed for more than 30 years for a smash and grab robbery at Attenborough Jewellers in Bethnal Green last year.

He was handed an eight-and-a-half-year jail sentence, which will run concurrent to his latest sentence.