A Bermondsey gang of jewellery raiders who were caught after being tackled by a have-a-go hero have been jailed for a total of just over 30 years for their £561,000 crime spree.
Alex Parle, 22, of Brunel Road, Rotherhithe, Thomas O’Connor, 23, of Swan Road, Rotherhithe and Conor Gartland, 18, of Druid Street, Bermondsey, targeted jewellers and money transfer shops in London and Manchester.
The gang smashed their way into shops using sledgehammers and concrete blocks “in a violent and frenzied manner” before ransacking window displays or ordering terrified staff to hand over cash.
Wearing crash helmets and gloves, the raiders roared off on scooters with handfuls of watches, jewellery and money.
Their year-long robbery campaign came to an end after 6ft 7in Parle was grabbed by smartly-dressed jeweller Dominic Carr as he tried to flee from Carr Watches and Diamonds, in London’s Liverpool Street.
Dramatic footage, filmed on an onlooker’s mobile phone and available to watch at our website, shows 48-year-old Mr Carr jumping on Parle’s back before Parle pulls out a large machete and swings it around before running off.
Dominic Carr said in a statement: “I do not see myself as any kind of hero. My reaction that day was a spontaneous response to protect, but the repercussions of it have been tremendous.
“The fear of what could have happened had the man with the machete actually used it, is something that goes over and over in my head. Who would look after my wife and children if he had actually killed me with it?”
Parle was arrested later that day and the subsequent investigation revealed Parle and his accomplices were responsible for a string of similar robberies over the previous year, one of which had taken place in Peckham.
On December 20 last year, Parle, O’Connor and Gartland raided Bilex International in Peckham High Street.
They made off with £1,250 after one shouted at the terrified 17-year-old female shop assistant: “This is my money, I’m taking the money, open the safe.” The victim said: “I felt scared and insecure so I left the company. I no longer felt safe in the area and was terrified to go out alone in case I saw the attackers and suffered panic attacks as a result.”
The trio all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob between February 2014 and January this year. Parle accepted involvement in six robberies and an attempted theft, Gartland accepted involvement in five robberies, an attempted robbery and an attempted theft and O’Connor accepted involvement in five robberies.
Judge Mark Lucraft QC sentenced Parle to ten years, O’Connor to twelve-and-a-half years and Gartland to eight years. The three men waved to the public gallery as they were led down to the cells.
Both Parle and Gartland had a previous conviction for burglary, while O’Connor has previous for theft, driving offences, and burglary.
Last week O’Connor was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years’ imprisonment at Woolwich Crown Court for his role in a similar robbery on Attenborough Jewellers in Bethnal Green, east London after he was found guilty following a trial.