Gang of 14 armed robbers jailed for more than 200 years for violent raid on travellers site

Eight of the robbers, pictured from left to right. Top row: Aaron Mayers, Ahmed Ali, Brady Dewson and Conner Miller. Bottom row: Darren Myers, Faisal Issah, Glenn Kenny and Jake Jenks (Picture: Kent Police)

A gang of 14 armed robbers have been jailed for a combined 200 years after a violent raid on a travellers site.

The men used “extreme violence” to terrorise three families while demanding money at a caravan site near Lenham, Kent.

They were eventually chased away after neighbours heard a terrified boy pleading, “Daddy, please don’t let them kill me”.

A judge at Maidstone Crown Court handed down jail terms from nine to 18 years for the gang following a serials of trials spanning two years.

The robbery took place in April 2016 and victims were threatened with firearms and baseball bats while young children were also present.

The sentences can only be reported after one of the gang, Junior Tamakloe, 34, from London, was jailed on Monday.

The remaining members of the gang, pictured from left to right. Top row: Jheryl Long, John Smillie and Junior Tamakloe. Bottom row: Lee George Baker, Nana Danquah and Nyake Alieu (Picture: Kent Police)

Prosecutor Nina Ellin said the masked men were clad in dark clothing and armed with weapons, including a sawed-off shotgun, a handgun, iron bars and a machete.

She said: “They demanded large sums of money at gunpoint. They terrorised the occupants of the caravans, which included women and young children. One man was brutally attacked.”

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The victims fought back as shots were fired, vehicles were rammed “and the attackers withdrew into the night”.

Judge Julian Smith said the gangsters spoke of finding “a life-changing’ reward” before the raid.

The court heard that on April 26, 2016, at about 11.30pm, a group of men entered three properties in Forstal Road.

They were all dressed in black and wore balaclavas, dust masks and bandanas to conceal their faces.

The occupants of each property were threatened with shotguns, handguns, crowbars and baseball bats during a prolonged attack. Four victims then had their wrists bound together with cable ties.

A fifth victim sustained a fractured skull and was also stabbed in the right arm and leg whilst trying to prevent the offenders gaining entry to his property where his wife and young children were hiding.

The assaults ended once the offenders had located a quantity of cash and a designer handbag. The offenders then fled in different directions, leaving their victims tied up.

The attackers had bought tape, latex gloves, torches, cable ties and demolition bars from B&Q and Poundland before converging on the yard from London, Kent, Sussex and Essex.

They only fled from the caravan site in Wheat Gratten Stable Yards when the residents fought back and chased them across a field – ramming getaway cars, leaving some so damaged they could not be driven away.

The judge said: “This offence was clearly the result of a good deal of planning and careful organisation.

“It was a bold, even audacious, plan involving a mass attack on the traveller site by a group of armed, masked and determined attackers following a shared plan, and prepared to use significant force, either themselves or intending that others in their group should do so.

“It may not be clear who was responsible for the original idea, but it is obvious and perfectly clear from the very substantial phone communication, the meeting the day before, the reconnaissance and the purchases made of items by individuals that were later shared among the group, that the actions of the attackers were coordinated to achieve maximum impact.

“They believed themselves ready and able to subdue the residents with pre-prepared cable tie quick-cuffs, weapons, threats and numbers.

“The obvious inference is the attackers expected large sums of money to be on site, hidden but recoverable, and certainly sufficient to justify this level of preparation in the expectation of a share of the proceeds.”

A knife was one of the weapons found at the scene (Picture: Kent Police)

Detective Inspector James Derham, a senior investigating officer for the case, said: “These men subjected three families to extreme levels of violence which left them in fear that they would be killed.

“The ordeals the victims were subjected to were terrifying and it has taken a huge amount of courage to speak out against these men.

“The level of violence used shows the offenders to be a very real threat to society and it is fit and proper that they now face a substantial amount of time in custody.

“I would like to thank the victims for the support they have given to this investigation. It has helped put together a strong and compelling case which has secured these entirely appropriate sentences.”

THE GANG AND SENTENCES:

Sentenced on January 13, 2017

Darren Myers, 33 and of Valley Road, Tunbridge Wells was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of a disguised firearm. He was sentenced to 23 years imprisonment. This was reduced to 21 years following an appeal.

Aaron Mayers, 33 and of Wick Road, South Hackney, was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery and received a 20 year sentence. This was reduced to 16 years following an appeal.

Nana Danquah, 33 and of The Shrublands, Potters Bar, was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery and received a 20 year sentence. This was reduced to 18 years following an appeal.

Lee George Baker, 29 and of Hoad Road, Eastbourne, was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery and received a 20 year sentence. This was reduced to 12 years following an appeal.

Nyake Alieu, 31 and of Church Street, Seaford, was convicted of Conspiracy to Rob and received a 20 year sentence. This was reduced to 16 years following an appeal.

Jake Jenks, 25 and of Allan Close, Tunbridge Wells was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery and received a 16 and a half year sentence. This was reduced to 14 years following an appeal.

Conner Miller, 22 and of no fixed address was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery and received a 16 year sentence. This was reduced to 13 years following an appeal.

Ahmed Ali, 23 of no fixed address pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and received a 13 year sentence.

Brady Dewson, 26 and of Latimer Road, Eastbourne pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and received a 12 year sentence.

Sentenced on January 12, 2018:

John Smillie, 26 and of Billet Road in Walthamstow, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. This was reduced to 14 years following an appeal.

Faisal Issah, 24 and of High Road in Tottenham, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. This was reduced to 14 years following an appeal.

Jheryl Long, 24 and of High Road in Tottenham, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery and sentenced to 17 years imprisonment.

Glenn Kenny, 26 and of Poppy Way in Lieston, Suffolk, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. He was sentenced to 10 years and eight months imprisonment. This was reduced to nine years and four months following an appeal.

Junior Tamakloe, 34 and of no fixed address, was the final defendant for this offence. He was sentenced to 13 and a half years imprisonment on November 12, 2018.

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