- ITV News report by Rags Martel
A brazen moped gang has been jailed for a string of bold “professional, planned and organised” high profile raids across London.
Among their crimes was the “shocking” attempted robbery where a mother was threatened with her three-year-old being snatched away from her by a few of them.
Their crimes between July 2017 and June 2018 also included the theft of BBC camera equipment filming the Oxford versus Cambridge boat race.
Judge Georgina Kent told the 12-strong gang, who were crowded into the dock at Kingston Crown Court: “Many offences were committed using motorbikes or mopeds, often stolen with false number plates.
“Many offences offences were committed at night.”
She added: “The motorbike helmets and clothing, often all in black, were an effective disguise and created an intimidating appearance. The motorbikes provided a quick getaway.
“Many of these offences were committed in public view because you were confident you could get away with it.”
In what the judge described as an “exceptionally serious and shocking attempted robbery” that had “a degree of planning”, four gang members were caught on CCTV targeting a woman with a young child in broad daylight in Sandpits Road in Richmond.
Pheobe Ruele was walking hand-in-hand with her son who she had just picked up from nursery when two motorcycles road past, pulled into the road and waited for her on June 21 last year.
The court heard that John McFadyen, 24, grabbed her arm hard enough to leave finger-mark bruises and told her: “Give me your rings. I’m going to hurt your child and take him away.”
Footage shows the “terrified” woman dragging her child into the road before builders chase the gang away, brandishing scaffolding poles.
The judge noted that “fortunately there were no cars in the vicinity at that moment” but added that Ms Ruele is now “afraid for her children’s safety when she takes them to and from school”.
The judge said she had “no doubt” this offence “would have struck fear into any parent who heard about it”.
The judge added: “A mother and her three-year-old son are extremely vulnerable. The threats that were made were calculated to exploit that vulnerability.
“To threaten a mother with violence towards a very young child and threaten to take the child away is a most effective and distressing threat.”
The footage went viral after being circulated on social media by Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, who asked the public to “call 101 or 999 if u know these scumbags”.
Taking the gang off the streets has helped cut moped-enabled crime in the capital by 52% in the space of a year, according to the Metropolitan Police.
The defendants, who are aged between 19 and 36, also used their mopeds to block traffic before taking an angle grinder to cameras rigged up to capture the boat race on March 22 last year.
Although their first attempt on Putney Bridge was interrupted by off-duty police officer Steven Wagstaff, a highly-specialised BBC camera worth an estimated £180,000 was stolen from Lonsdale Road by Barnes Bridge just an hour later.
Of the first incident, the judge said: “One of the riders rode at Mr Wagstaff, kicking out with his foot. Another threatened to stab him and one of the pillion (passengers) threatened to stab him with the angle grinder.
“The gang escaped empty-handed.”
The gang, who were all linked to ringleader Terry Marsh, 32, were sentenced for offences including conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to burgle,conspiracy to steal, criminal damage and handling stolen goods.
Three gang members – Omar Tafat, 22, Josh Myers, 19, and Kian Taylor, 20 – were arrested on May 7 last year following a high-speed police chase.
It lasted more than 90 minutes and spanned 10 London boroughs, with all three piled onto the same bike.
At one point they even drove the wrong way up the A40 into oncoming traffic to try to shake off the helicopter, police motorbikes and dog units chasing them. They had arranged for an associate to wait by the roadside with a can of fuel to try to escape.
The three, who had tried to film the escapade, were arrested when they crashed by South Ealing Cemetery.
The gang first came to police attention on December 31 2017 when they carried out a ram-raid on high-end outdoor clothing company Altimus Ltd in High Street Kensington using a stolen Range Rover and several mopeds.
They made off with thousands of pounds’ worth of Canada Goose and Nicole Benisti jackets, which can retail at up to £2,000.
Within a month, the gang had returned to the same store to carry out a second raid, violently assaulting the security guard hired to protect the premises and throwing him out into the street.
The two raids cost the business £43,000 in lost goods, and a total of £80,000 including damage.
The judge said the security guard, who was “just doing his job,” suffered head injuries, bruises to his body and a foot injury.
She added: “Since then he felt unprotected when he goes to work and he is afraid that something like this could happen again.”
Other brazen attacks included spraying a police car with fire foam extinguishers as officers waited for a stolen moped to be collected, and making off with the bike.
They also targeted two unmarked police cars, stealing an officer’s bag from one and smashing another up with a hammer in a bid to do as much damage as possible.
In April they raided three Kensington-based businesses, making off with thousands of pounds of electronic equipment – one company alone lost £83,000 worth of MacBooks and other Apple products.
Although the majority of their activity was focused in south-west London, four defendants travelled to Redditch in Worcestershire in January last year where they stole three motorbikes worth a total of £30,000 after their owner accidentally posted his address after advertising them on eBay.
Investigating officers said the gang were highly forensically aware and managed to carry out a number of raids without leaving any DNA evidence, forcing the police to painstakingly analyse huge volumes of mobile phone data to link the defendants and the offences.
Marsh alone had three handsets and 20 different SIM cards in a bid to avoid being tracked down by mobile phone data.
Following the arrest of Tafat, Myers and Taylor in May, a further five gang members were arrested in July last year, with the remaining defendants apprehended after caches of evidence found at their co-conspirators’ addresses were analysed.
Tafat, 22, of Fulham, was jailed for a total of eight years and five months after being sentenced for a count of conspiracy to steal, attempted robbery, the theft and attempted theft of BBC cameras, going equipped to steal, criminal damage to a police car and breach of a criminal behaviour order.
Myers, 19, of Shepherds Bush, was sentenced to eight years in a young offenders institution and disqualified from driving.
He had pleaded guilty to attempted theft, going equipped to steal, criminal damage to a police car, dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified, possession of an offensive weapon and conspiracy to steal.
He was also found guilty of two further counts of robbery and possession of an offensive weapon at trial.
Taylor, of no fixed address, admitted attempted theft, going equipped to steal, criminal damage to a police car, dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and possession of an offensive weapon, and was found guilty of robbery after trial.
He was sentenced to a total of nine years and four months at a young offenders institution and given a driving disqualification.
Steven Weller, 36, of Ealing, was given consecutive sentences of 49 months for conspiracy to rob, four month for conspiracy to steal and 26 months for conspiracy to burgle, and was sentenced to a total of six years and seven months.
The court heard Marsh was “supremely organised and diligent” in rotating the Sim cards in the telephones he used and was “the common denominator in the crime spree”.
Marsh, of Fulham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to steal and conspiracy to burgle.
The 32-year-old was jailed for a total of 13 years and two months. He was given consecutive sentences of 54 months for conspiracy to rob, 48 months for conspiracy to steal and 56 months for conspiracy to burgle.
After admitting a series of offences, Moran, 36, of Fulham, was give concurrent suspended sentences of two months for conspiracy to steal, 24 months for conspiracy to burgle and a month for handling stolen goods.
He was given a total sentence of 24 months, suspended for 18 months with a six-month curfew.
John McFadyen, 24, of Feltham, was jailed for 32 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to rob, while his brother Isaac, 19, admitted conspiracy to rob was sentenced to 32 months in a young offenders institution.
Mitchell Leaver, 18 of Battersea, was given a 12-month suspended sentence and and a three-month curfew after admitting conspiracy to burgle.
Scott Leaver, 25, of Lambeth, was sentenced to 56 months’ imprisonment after being found guilty of the same charge after trial.
The judge sentenced Aaron Pask, 27, of White City, to a total of six years and eight months after his convictions for conspiracy to burgle, conspiracy to steal and burglary.
Ram Monk, 23, of no fixed address, was sentenced to two years and eight months after being found guilty of conspiracy to burgle.