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Image: Top (L-R): Charlie Kavanagh and Stephen Hopkins, Bottom (L-R): James Symes and Johnny Kyriacou.]

Four men caught red-handed by Flying Squad officers attempting to carry out a smash and grab robbery at a high-end watch store in central London have been jailed today, Thursday 24 November at Blackfriars Crown Court.

The proactive operation in Piccadilly, W1 left five officers injured, with one still recovering from a fractured skull after being deliberately struck by a moped as the suspects tried to flee the scene.

Charlie Kavanagh, 26, Stephen Hopkins, 29, James Symes, 30 and Johnny Kyriacou, 25 who were sentenced had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob.

Kavanagh was sentenced to life imprisonment, Hopkins and Symes to a total of 14 and a half years and Kyriacou to 10 and half years.

Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Staff, from the Met’s Flying Squad, said:

“I am pleased at the significant sentences handed down by the court today that reflect not only the serious nature of this offence but also the danger posed by this group of men.

“They acted with total disregard for the general public who must have been terrified to see such an audacious crime being carried out in broad daylight but also for those officers who bravely tried to apprehend them. One was left with very serious injuries that he is still recovering from after he was hit by a moped.

“Our officers know the dangers they might face in their day-to-day job targeting armed robbers but should be commended for their drive and determination to apprehend those intent on breaking the law and endangering the public.”

On Wednesday, 3 August officers from the Met’s Flying Squad carried out a proactive operation at Chronext in Piccadilly, W1. They were acting on intelligence that a gang were planning a smash and grab robbery at the high-end watch retailer.

At about 11:25hrs officers saw two mopeds stop on the pavement outside the shop. Hopkins and Kyriacou got off the back of the scooters and approached the front door.

Hopkins, armed with a hatchet, kicked the front security door open and ran into the store. He attacked the cabinet closest to the door, smashing the glass.

Kyriacou followed, reaching into a bag he was holding to also pull out a hatchet.

Flying Squad officers posted at the back of the store immediately challenged the suspects.

Kyriacou dropped the bag he was carrying, ran out of the shop throwing away his weapon. He was followed by Hopkins who kept hold of his hatchet as he ran. The officers pursued them.

Symes and Kavanagh, who had been waiting on the mopeds outside, were tackled by officers and the gang tried to flee on the vehicles.

Kavanagh revved his scooter’s throttle and deliberately drove along the pavement towards three officers. Two officers were knocked aside, bruising their legs and sides.

The third officer, a detective constable, was hit square on by the vehicle and dragged a short distance. He ended up in the road with the scooter lying on top of him.

He suffered a fractured skull with bleeds on his brain, cracked ribs, damage to his lung and a broken ankle. He was in hospital for some time undergoing surgery and has yet to fully recover from his injuries and return to work.

The injured DC said: “I suffered a number of injuries which have had, and which are still having, an impact on my day-to-day life. I’m alarmed at the extent of my injuries as all I did was go to work one day and I ended up on the operating table a couple of days later.

“It is too early to say what the long-term prognosis is going to be and whether there will be any psychological consequences. I have been in a considerable amount of pain since the incident, especially post-op in relation to my head. These injuries, specifically the brain injury, could affect my future career in the police. I’m also unable to drive for up to a year and this has a huge impact on my lifestyle and mobility.”

A fourth officer suffered a deep cut when an axe struck his leg during the melee while a fifth suffered minor injuries.

Two axes, a knife and machete were recovered. The suspects failed to steal any watches.

All four suspects were arrested at the scene and charged the next day, Thursday 4 August.

Charlie Kavanagh, 26 (4.10.90) of , Islington N1 was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiracy to rob and causing serious injury by dangerous driving and must serve thirteen-and-a-half years.

Stephen Hopkins, 29 (14.5.87) of Islington was jailed for ten years, six months with an extension of four years for conspiracy to rob and one year concurrent for unlawful wounding.

James Symes, 30 (8.6.86) of no fixed address received ten years, six months imprisonment, with an extension of four years, for conspiracy to rob.

Johnny Kyriacou, 25 (11.2.91) of Islington was sentenced to ten years, six months imprisonment for conspiracy to rob.

Kavanagh was sentenced to life imprisonment, Hopkins and Symes to 14 and a half years and Kyriacou to 10 and half years.

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