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Young travel agent bandits caught in Hornchurch jailed for total 37 years

PUBLISHED: 11:38 25 November 2010

Thomson in Hornchurch was targeted by the gang

Thomson in Hornchurch was targeted by the gang

Archant

A GANG of travel agent robbers who struck 14 times, netting more than £100,000, have been jailed for a total 37 and a half years.

The young bandits struck a dozen times at Thomson, including a store in Hornchurch, once at a First Choice and once at the Thomas Cook store in Romford, Inner London Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

The crime wave ended on May 10 after the gang struck Thomson in High Street Hornchurch.

Anabel Darlow, prosecuting, said: “The travel agents were a particularly vulnerable target - security levels were not high, but relatively high amounts of cash were kept on the premises.”

She said the main figures behind the rampage were gunman Kingsley Oluokun, 21, of Richborne Terrace, Kennington, Gabrial Shodunke, 20, of Dorset Road, also Keninngton, and Geosi Mafuta, 21, whose address was listed as Feltham Young Offender’s Institute.

Also involved were Michael Akuoko, 19, of Camberwell New Road, Camberwell, and two 17-year-olds, who cannot be named.

The prosecutor relayed the incident in Hornchurch, saying: “Shortly before midday the two 17-year-olds entered the premises.

“The first male walked over to the travel consultant working in the shop, pulled a black handgun from his waistband and said: ‘This is a stick-up’.”

After the robbery the teenagers ran out to a waiting cab with Akuoko inside.

“The minicab driver noticed smoke pouring from the inside of the vehicle and told the men to get out,” added the barrister.

The trio fled to a nearby getaway car but police swooped minutes later.

A small black handgun, later found to be a fake American Colt 1911, and a camouflage balaclava, were stashed under the back seat and the bag contained cash.

Mafuta and Shodunke were arrested within an hour in nearby Nando’s and Oluokin was cornered three months later.

Shodunke, Mafuta, Oluokun and Akuoko admitted conspiracy to rob and possession of a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence.

The 17-year-olds admitted a single charge of robbery and the firearm charge.

Judge Chapple jailed Shodunke for 10 years, Mafuta for eight, Oluokun and Akuoku each for seven, the 17-year-old gunman for four years, and the youngest gang member for 18 months.

He said: “How dare you inflict that sort of anguish, fear and terror on innocent, decent, law-abiding people.”

He added: “It is hardly surprising that they describe their feelings as being terrified, they couldn’t shop shaking with fear.

“One is still undergoing counselling.

“They describe the impact on their lives being horrendous and speak of mental torture.”


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