A SWORD-wielding gang who threatened to behead a security guard during a £620,000 Bournemouth robbery have been jailed for a total of 97 years.

Four members of the gang stole watches and gems from Franses and Sons in Westover Road, Bournemouth, after roaring up on stolen motorbikes - one of which was ridden through the front door.

Bournemouth Echo:

One of the men brandished a samurai sword and an accomplice threatened passing pedestrians with a bottle of ammonia.

Appearing at Southampton Crown Court yesterday they were jailed by Judge Christopher Parker QC, who said the gang had terrorised staff and customers.

Bournemouth Echo:

Judge Parker said the defendants targeted a small, family-run business, arriving at the premises with with a sledgehammer, bottles of a highly corrosive liquid and a “lethal” sword.

He added: “The effect on the business has been enormous. 

“Some of the staff have been left highly traumatised by the crime and the violence.”

Bournemouth Echo:

At previous hearings Rowan McLaughlin, 31, of Tregonwell Close, Bournemouth, Jonathan Oriba, 27, of no fixed address, Sophie Rivers, 29, of Church Lane, London, were found guilty of conspiracy to rob.

Bournemouth Echo:

Top row, l-r: Darrius Ingram, Jonathan Oriba, Rowan McLaughlin. Bottom row, l-r: Rhys Gregg-Ball, Aktil Tariq Ford, Shahid Sharif 

Four other people, Aktil Ford, 27, of Powis Towers, London, Darius Ingram, 26, of Oxford Gardens, London, Shahid Sharif, 28, of Church Lane, London, and Rhys Greg-Ball, 27, of Hazel Grove, London, admitted conspiracy to rob.

Yesterday another defendant, Kalan Williamson, 27, of no fixed address admitted conspiracy to rob.
Tom Evans, prosecuting, said it was an “organised and violent” robbery.

Bournemouth Echo:

Kalan Williamson

He added: “Ingram got off his motorbike and produced a Samurai sword which he used to threaten the security guard. 

“He held the sword near the guard’s chest and neck and told him: ‘I’ll kill you - I’ll take your head off’. Another defendant, Sharif, kept bystanders away from the shop by threatening them with a bottle of ammonia.”

Bournemouth Echo:

In a victim impact statement read to the court by Mr Evans the security guard said he was a former serviceman who had fought in Bosnia and the Gulf War.

He added: I’ve had weapons pulled on me but this was different. I had nothing with which to defend myself. I was lucky to come out alive.”

As the police closed in the gang fled in panic, abandoning a rucksack containing about £115,000 of the stolen property. The rest was never recovered.

Police found DNA evidence on some of the objects left in the area and arrested most of the defendants in a series of dawn raids. All the barristers representing the defendants urged Judge Parker to be as lenient as possible.

Bournemouth Echo:

Ford was jailed for 12 years, Ingram was imprisoned for 11 years, Oriba was handed an 18-year jail term, Sharif was jailed for 12 years and ten months, Greg-Ball was imprisoned for 12 years and ten months, McLaughlin was handed and eight-year prison term, Rivers was jailed for six years and Williamson was locked up for 16 years and ten months.  

Detective Sergeant Garry Knight, of Bournemouth CID, said: “I hope the sentences handed out today send out a strong message that we will not tolerate offences of this nature that target Dorset businesses.

“This was a complex case and I would like to thank the store owners and all the witnesses who supported our investigation and gave evidence during the trial to help bring this dangerous gang to justice.”