A group of eight men who stole luxury watches from members of the public in violent street robberies have been sentenced to a total of 54 years in jail.

The spree of 14 robberies took place between May and November 2017 in the West End, Mayfair and Knightsbridge.

In total, the gang stole watches with a combined value of £280,000.

They intimidated, threatened and seriously assaulted members of the public and also carried out an aggravated burglary in a residential property, bringing the total number of incidents to 15.

The trial was held at Isleworth Crown Court and they were sentenced at Kingston Crown Court on Tuesday, 8 January.

Not all members of the gang were involved in each incident.

Police Sergeant Annie Yau, who led the investigation, said: “There was a shocking level of violence used in a number of the incidents with some victims being grabbed around the neck and thrown to the floor, often being kicked and punched when on the ground and watches ripped from wrists.

“They were all intimidated and threatened by these despicable individuals whose sole objective was to steal the high value items for their own greed.

“While the attacks were mostly at night, one took place in broad daylight when some of the gang mistook a cheap Rolex copy for the real thing. They also attacked a pensioner and made threats to stab some of the victims.

“One incident saw members of the gang storm into a house in Knightsbridge after befriending the residents on their way home after a night out. They assaulted them with their fists and a belt buckle. While they didn’t manage to steal anything on the first occasion, the gang then returned at around 05:20hrs, forcing their way in and threatening the victims with bottles and a knife. They also used this to slash at doors, before stealing two watches.

“This incident alone would have been absolutely terrifying, and left the victims and other occupants having to barricade themselves into their bedrooms.

Detective Sergeant Holyhead, who oversaw the operation, added: “The defendants were caught through detailed and intelligence-led police work, starting with the basics, including extensive CCTV camera trawls by colleagues at Westminster CID.

“The robberies were linked by the RPTC Proactive Crime Unit, who identified the MO of the defendants.

“They proceeded to conduct a very thorough and protracted investigation, in spite of the poor quality of CCTV footage for some of the offences.

“Footage was later submitted to the team at Lambeth CC Video Laboratory who did a stellar job of enhancing it all, making it very difficult for each defendant to deny involvement.

“The major difficulty in this case was that most of the victims were from overseas and had left the country. Through persistence and tenacity the investigating team managed to keep most of the victims on board to secure the convictions, especially the victims who suffered the most traumatic of the robberies. Video links for victims to give evidence in court was also key.”

“I am pleased we’ve had such a significant result and would like to thank the victims for their patience and co-operation as we carried out our enquiries.”

All sentences are to be served concurrently with the time to be served listed below.

Mohammed Chaab, 20, of Handley Grove , Cricklewood, was handed an eight year term after pleading guilty to eleven offences.

Abdelhakim Naili, 19, of Westfields Road, Ealing, pleaded guilty to nine offences and was given a seven year and two month term.

Ziyad Al-Daher, 28, of Brockley Road, Lewisham, was sentenced for nine offences and was given a 10 and a half year term. He was sentenced as a dangerous offender and therefore subject to approval of the parole board with a 5 year extension

Serewo Gwanzura, 23, Old Kent Road, Southwark, was to 11 years for three offences.

Khalid Abdullah, 31, High Street, Croydon was sentenced in relation to two offences and was given a four year term.

Damien Pates, 21, of Rabournmead Drive, Northolt, was sentenced for one offence as he is already serving nine years for the aggravated burglary in Knightsbridge. He was given an additional two and a half years to be served consecutively.

An 18-year-old sentenced in relation to four offences to five and a half years was sentenced as a youth.

Khaled Guehis, 25, of Loveridge Road, Camden, was sentenced for three offences and received a five year and three month term.

+ A ninth member of the group, Mr Tabarak Ali, 25, of Charters Close, Gypsy Hill, was sentenced to four months in prison at an earlier hearing at Isleworth Crown Court on 12 December 2018.

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