Mobile phone thieves jailed after police pursuit on M11

Lisa O'Carroll

Dramatic footage showing a mobile phone thief trying to escape police by driving the wrong way on the M11 has been released as the driver and his accomplice were jailed.

The footage, taken from a police helicopter, shows Zuriel Hutson, 21, weaving in and out of oncoming traffic on the motorway, as he attempted to evade capture.

Police said he was travelling at speeds of up to 90mph, with footage showing a group of pedestrians narrowly escaping injury as he made his way to the motorway.

Hutson and Sharuk Sheraji, 22, had carried out a high-speed spree snatching phones across London in the preceding hours. They were jailed for two-and-a-half years and two years, respectively.

Before being stopped by police using a “stinger” tyre deflation device, Hutson narrowly missed an articulated truck and dozens of cars. He then proceeded to drive between the middle and outside lanes against high-speed traffic before coming off his bike.

He mounted the bike again and continued his journey against oncoming traffic on the hard shoulder, before being brought to a stop by police on a slip road on to the M25.

Hutson, from Islington, north London, and his accomplice Sheraji, from Hoxton, north London, carried out their crime spree on 26 November last year. They snatched 10 mobile phones from people as they were talking on them, in various locations in the boroughs of Westminster, Camden, Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

The police, who gave chase by helicopter and unmarked cars, said the thieves were “easily spotted due to their visibly dangerous driving”. They managed to arrest Sheraji after he jumped off the bike and tried to escape on foot. He was found to be in possession of 18 phones and was arrested.

Hutson was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison after he pleaded guilty to stealing and to dangerous driving and breach of a criminal behaviour order. Sheraji received two years after pleading guilty to stealing and breaching a similar order.

“This was a good result, which has seen two perpetrators of audacious thefts receive a robust judicial outcome with time in jail. The convictions and sentences should send out a strong message that such incidents will be dealt with robustly by the Met and the courts,” said DCI Steve Heatley after their sentencing at Isleworth crown court.

The case is part of Operation Attrition, the Metropolitan police’s attempt to combat a surge in moped-enabled mobile phone theft.

Heatley said: “Both defendants, Hutson in particular, could have caused serious injury to the victims, the public, other motorists and themselves, in their callous execution of their crimes and attempts to evade justice. They had no regard for anyone but themselves.”

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