Armed gang who targeted Stratford shop admit to smash and grab raids

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

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

A gang of armed robbers that used machetes and hammers to rob jewellery and money transfer shops across Manchester and London, including Newham, are due to be sentenced after admitting to their crimes.

Over the past year, the gang made off with more than half a million pounds worth of cash and jewellery, after smashing into shops with weapons including concrete blocks and knives, before taking off on mopeds.

Thomas O’Connor, 23, of Swan Lane, Rotherhithe, Conor Gartland, 18, of Druid Street, Southwark and Alex Parle, 22, of Adams Garden Estate, Southwark, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery at the Old Bailey last week and will be sentenced on December 15.

On December 20 last year, two members of the gang, Parle and Gartland, took off with £2,392.47 from Unistream Money Transfer Shop in West Ham Lane, Stratford.

They also robbed money transfer and jewellery shops in Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Kensington and Chelsea, City of London, Kent and Manchester.

One of the gang members was caught after an unmarked police vehicle blocked the group’s escape following a smash and grab robbery at Carr Jewellers in Liverpool Street on January 22.

O’Connor, Gartland, and Parle had arrived on two mopeds and one of the robbers used a solid block to gain access to the shop.

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In a video, released by City of London police, two of the members can be seen entering the shop with sledgehammers breaking into two display cabinets and placed several Rolex, Piquet and Omega watches valued at £144,869 into a black rucksack.

Parle, the tallest of the group remained outside on the lookout. The other two men then left the store and mounted back onto the mopeds to make their escape.

But Parle was prevented from jumping onto the back after the police vehicle blocked the moped. He was then grabbed by a member of the public, who only let go after the robber threatened him with a machete.

Parle was followed to Gravel Lane by a police officer where he was arrested and the machete was later recovered.

Detective Inspector 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 but through collaborative working, the Flying Squad, City of London Police and Greater Manchester Police were able to make the connection and secure convictions.

“These men terrified shop employees, using weapons, aggression and threats in order to get 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.”