A VIOLENT gang who robbed a number of jewellery shops were jailed for a total of 82 years.
The 10-strong Romanian gang were sentenced at the Old Bailey on Thursday, March 28 for stealing more than £1m worth of jewellery.
One of the victims was a jeweller in Ealing Road, Wembley, whose shop was ransacked and smashed up and the owner’s car set on fire during the terrifying ordeal.
The Flying Squad launched an investigation into the group, which targeted Asian jewellers, stealing mostly 22 carat gold items.
They forced their way into shops after one smartly-dressed member of the gang was let in and stashed the items in pre-dug holes near railway lines.
The court heard how on the morning of March 28, 2012, a smartly dressed man purporting to be a customer rang the bell to enter a jewellery shop in Ealing Road, Wembley.
As he gained entry he held the door open to allow nine men wearing hooded tops, scarves and balaclavas into the shop. They smashed cabinets and filled bags with loot and set the owner’s car on fire as they left with more than £500,000 worth of jewellery.
Police were called and Romanian national Alexandru Pavaluca, 23, was arrested and convicted for the offence. He was sentenced to seven years and six months.
The remainder of the gang made their way along a nearby railway line to escape.
They went on to rob jewellers shops in Ilford and East Ham, east London, before they were finally caught redhanded in Turnpike Lane, Haringey, on September 15, 2012, following police surveillance.
DCI Ian Corner, from the Flying Squad, said: “These were violent armed robberies during which innocent members of staff were terrorised and genuinely feared for their lives. It is even more shocking to know that this level of violence was inflicted on innocent customers who happened to be in the premises.”
The gang, who were all of no fixed address, were sentenced as follows:
? Puit Danut Paunescu, 26: Sentenced to seven years, three months, for robbing a Turnpike Lane jewellery shop
? Vasile Alexandru Bataraga, 23: Nine years, four months, for robbing three jewellery shops in Ilford, East Ham and Turnpike Lane
? Iulian Roman, 21: Nine-and-a-half years, for the robbery of two shops in Turnpike Lane and East Ham
? Ioan Gavrilut, 26: Nine years, four months, for the robbery of three jewellery shops in Wembley, East Ham and Turnpike Lane
? Constantin Daniel Irina, 30: Eight years for the robbery of two jewellery shops in Southwark and Turnpike Lane
? Ovidiu Gabor, 25: Seven years for the robbery of a jewellery shop in Turnpike Lane
? Marius Andrei Barbu, 25: Nine years, four months, for robbing three jewellery shops in Wembley, Ilford and East Ham
? Gheorge Macovei, 23: Seven years for robbing two jewellery shops in Wembley and Turnpike Lane
? Iulian Culba, 22: Nine years, four months, for robbing three jewellery shops in Wembley, Ilford and East Ham
? Catalin Paise, 19: Six years, nine months, for robbing a jewellery shop in Southwark