Four violent criminals have been jailed after a police officer was left with a fractured skull while foiling a jewellery raid.

Charlie Kavanagh, 26, Stephen Hopkins, 29, James Symes, 30, and Johnny Kyriacou, 25, were caught red-handed by officers, attempting to carry out a smash-and-grab at a high-end watch store in Piccadilly.

Police were trying to stop them escaping from the scene when one officer was deliberately rammed by a scooter. He is still recovering nearly four months after the incident. The detective constable said: "These injuries, specifically the brain injury, could affect my future career in the police. I’m also unable to drive for up to a year and this has a huge impact on my lifestyle and mobility.”

The four men were jailed at Blackfriars Crown Court today (Thursday, November 24) having previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob.

Charlie Kavanagh was given a life sentence

Kavanagh was sentenced to life imprisonment, Hopkins and Symes to 14 and a half years each and Kyriacou to 10 and half years.

The Met’s Flying Squad were lying in wait for the robbers at watch retailer Chronext on August 3 after acting on intelligence that a gang were planning a smash and grab robbery there.

At about 11.25am officers saw two mopeds stop on the pavement outside the shop. Hopkins and Kyriacou got off the back of the scooters and approached the front door.

James Symes was jailed for 10 years and 6 months with an extension of 4 years for conspiracy to rob

Hopkins, armed with an axe, kicked the front security door open and ran into the store. He attacked the cabinet closest to the entrance, smashing the glass.

Kyriacou followed, reaching into a bag he was holding to also pull out a hatchet.

But they were pounced upon by police lying in wait at the back of the store.

A knife recovered at the scene

Kyriacou dropped the bag he was carrying and ran out of the shop, throwing away his weapon. He was followed by Hopkins who kept hold of his hatchet as he ran.

Symes and Kavanagh, who had been waiting on the mopeds outside, were tackled by officers and the gang tried to flee on the vehicles.

Kavanagh revved his scooter’s throttle and deliberately drove along the pavement towards three officers. Two officers were knocked aside, bruising their legs and sides.

Video thumbnail, Paddington raid CCTV
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CCTV video of the watch thieves getting caught red-handed

The third officer, a detective constable, was hit square on by the vehicle and dragged a short distance. He ended up in the road with the scooter lying on top of him.

He suffered a fractured skull with bleeds on his brain, cracked ribs, damage to his lung and a broken ankle. He was in hospital for some time undergoing surgery and has yet to fully recover from his injuries and return to work.

Stephen Hopkins was jailed for 10 and a half years

The injured DC said: “I suffered a number of injuries which have had, and which are still having, an impact on my day-to-day life. I’m alarmed at the extent of my injuries as all I did was go to work one day and I ended up on the operating table a couple of days later.

“It is too early to say what the long-term prognosis is going to be and whether there will be any psychological consequences.

"I have been in a considerable amount of pain since the incident, especially post-op in relation to my head.

The scene of the crime in Piccadilly

"These injuries, specifically the brain injury, could affect my future career in the police. I’m also unable to drive for up to a year and this has a huge impact on my lifestyle and mobility.”

A fourth officer suffered a deep cut when an axe struck his leg during the melee while a fifth suffered minor injuries.

Two axes, a knife and a machete were recovered. The suspects failed to steal any watches.

Johnny Kyriacou was jailed for 10 and a half years

All four suspects were arrested at the scene and charged the next day (August 4).

  • Kavanagh, of Hedingham Close, Islington N1 was sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiracy to rob and causing serious injury by dangerous driving and must serve 13 and a half years
  • Hopkins, of Lough Road, N7 was jailed for 10 years 6 months with an extension of 4 years for conspiracy to rob and one year concurrent for unlawful wounding
  • Symes, of no fixed address, received 10 years 6 months imprisonment, with an extension of 4 years for conspiracy to rob
  • Kyriacou, of Liverpool Road, N1 was sentenced to 10 years 6 months imprisonment for conspiracy to rob.

Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Staff, from the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “I am pleased at the significant sentences handed down by the court today that reflect not only the serious nature of this offence but also the danger posed by this group of men.

An axe used by the gang

“They acted with total disregard for the general public who must have been terrified to see such an audacious crime being carried out in broad daylight but also for those officers who bravely tried to apprehend them."

A machete found at the scene

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