Life for robber who terrorised Havering during 15-day violent crime spree

A violent criminal who carried out six knifepoint robberies in just 15 days in Havering was jailed for life on Friday.

Knife-wielding heroin addict Ian Edwards, 45, was convicted at the Old Bailey for robbery and conspiracy to rob.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which also included a seventh robbery in Ilford.

During one, at the Gayatri newsagent, in The Broadway, Rainham, the frail shopkeeper – a widow in her 70s - was threatened with a large kitchen knife and violently dragged across the floor before Edwards made off with around �400 in cash.

The woman is now so traumatised she seldom leaves her home.

On another occasion Edwards held up a busy Tesco in Rainham which was packed with customers and staff.

Edwards’ accomplice, look-out and get-away driver Kenneth Westfield, 37, of Lower Mardyke Avenue, Rainham, stood trial after denying his part but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. He was jailed for six years.

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Investigating officer DC Fareed Mirza, from The Flying Squad, said: “Edwards and Westfield were engaged in a spate of violent robberies that impacted on local businesses and instilled a real sense of fear amongst members of the local community.

“Edwards is a violent career criminal. He showed no remorse and disregarded the impact his actions would have on the lives of his victims and their businesses. The conviction of these two men reaffirms the commitment of the Flying Squad to bring to justice men of violence and improve the safety in which businesses operate.”

DCI Ian Corner added: “This is an excellent example of work carried out by the Flying Squad in partnership with local borough officers, where linked cross-border knife robberies at commercial premises were investigated.

“Officers from the Flying Squad supported the local investigation by bringing about the arrest and conviction of both suspects, ending an episode of violent offending.”

The Flying Squad arrested Westfield on May 8 and Edwards two days later in Dagenham Heathway.

Edwards, of no fixed abode, was told by judges that he must serve a minimum of eight years.