Jail for East Ham ammonia attack duo

Victor Agostinho

Victor Agostinho - Credit: Archant

A masked duo who sprayed ammonia into the faces of two employees during an attempted hold up at a Newham business have both been given lengthy jail sentences.

Raphael Salau,

Raphael Salau, - Credit: Archant

Wearing hats and with their faces covered so they were indistinguisable for one another, Raphael Salau,22, and Victor Agostinho, walked into the premises in Haldene Road, East Ham, in August last year.

The handwritten note found on Agostinho

The handwritten note found on Agostinho - Credit: Archant

One of them - believed to be Salau - thrust an imitation handgun into the chest of a male employee and shouted: “Give me the money! This is a real gun, it’s not a fake.”

The employee began shouting to raise the alarm and the gunman then pointed the firearm at the throat of a second male employee, repeating his demand for money.

The man refused, pushing the gun away, at which point liquid ammonia was squirted from a bottle into their faces by Agostinho before the pair fled to a waiting getaway car.

An off-duty police officer and another man gave chase and they were able to provide a description and the registration number of the vehicle which was circulated to local police.

Salau and Agostinho were spotted and arrested an hour and a half later in Masterman Road, East Ham, by officers in police patrol car.

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From the getaway vehicle officers recovered a bottle of ammonia, an air pistol and ball bearings.

Officers searched Agostinho and found a handwritten note in his pocket. It stated: “GIVE MONEY OR I SHOOT BRAINS OUT! Its your choice”

Salau of Pickering Road, East Ham and Agostinho, an Angolan national, of no fixed abode, were sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court last Friday after they’d been found guilty last month of conspiracy to rob and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery.

Both received nine years for conspiracy to rob with another five years to run concurrently for the firearms charge.

After sentencing ,Flying Squad officer, DC David Spraggett said: “Their crime was appalling. They went equipped to scare, harm and rob. They wanted whatever little money was on the premises and they were prepared to hurt innocent people in order to get it.

“When the victims bravely refused to give into their assailants’ threats, they resorted to a disgusting attempt to injure them before running away.”