An escaped convict who got away from police in a high speed car chase has finally been sent back to jail after officers found him hiding in a cupboard.

Sean Maher, 26, originally from Battersea, broke out of prison halfway through a 12-year sentence in October 2017 and committed a series of knifepoint robberies in nine months, often helped by co-defendant Jay Jay Manley, 26, of Austin Road, in Battersea.

The pair plead guilty to forcing multiple victims around Chelsea to hand over their expensive watches and were sentenced to a total of 15 years in jail at Southwark Crown Court on Monday (November 5).

Maher was spotted by police in Tooting on June 29 a few days before his arrest but managed to evade them during a high speed car chase after mounting the pavement and crashing through bins, narrowly missing bin men.

Police were forced to end their pursuit of Maher to avoid endangering the public

Detective Constable Tony Holley said: "I am pleased that justice has prevailed and these men have now finally received punishments for their abhorrent acts.

"These two men embarked on a crime spree of shocking proportions. They identified and targeted victims who were all vulnerable and preyed further on their vulnerability, using knives to cause even more fear, just so they could steal what was not theirs to take.

"I hope that with this sentence the victims can now look at trying to move on with their lives, which have been vastly affected by this incident.

"The enormity of the impact these men have caused cannot be underrated and I am pleased they are behind bars and no longer pose a threat to the public."

Maher was on the run from police having escaped prison when he was arrested for the robberies

Operating in and around Chelsea , the pair approached lone victims or separated victims from each other before they threatened them with a knife and forced them to hand over expensive watches and jewellery.

They often fled the scene in a stolen Nissan Qashqai with false plates or a stolen Land Rover.

'In my time as a police officer, I do not think I have seen much more dangerous behaviour'

On June 29, officers about to enter a Tooting address on Seely Road spotted Maher jump into a car and speed down the pavement before rejoining the road.

Police followed until Maher came up against a refuse truck blocking the road, at which point he mounted the pavement and drove around the blockage, crashing through bins and narrowing missing bin men.

No one was injured but the officers ended the chase to avoid endangering the public.

Police officers mown down by suspected thieves in Twickenham as they tried to stop car

DC Holley added: “I was present when Sean Maher drove off from police on June 29 and in my time as a police officer, I do not think I have seen much more dangerous behaviour than his that day.

"At 7.30am whilst members of the public including children on their way to school, using the very pavements he drove along to evade capture, anyone unlucky enough to have been in his way would have been simply mown down.

“The sheer level of dangerousness to the public that these men posed cannot be underestimated and it was fortunate that all the victims succumbed to their demands as I shudder to think what lengths they would have gone to in order to achieve their aim.

"In Maher’s case, it is only aggravated by the fact that he should have still been in prison at the time for previous violent offending and further aggravated by the fact that they were using stolen, disguised, uninsured and unlicensed vehicles to facilitate their getting around.

Manley was charged with three robberies and three offences of possession of offensive weapons

“I have spoken to the victims in this case and they suffered varying levels of trauma from these robberies – one of the male victims was visibly shaking when he viewed a picture of Maher three months after the robbery.

“The investigation into these offences, including the manhunt for Maher, was challenging and complex. It is incredibly satisfying to have taken these men off the streets.”

Maher was arrested and charged with a long list of offences on July 2, a few days after the car chase, when officers forced entry into a Macey House flat and found him hiding in a cupboard.

A further search of the property discovered evidence linking him to some of the robberies.

What was Maher charged with?

Battersea-born 26-year-old criminal Sean Maher had a long list of eight charges to his name despite his young age.

When discovered by police on July 2, he was charged with:

  • Escaping from prison
  • Three counts of robbery
  • Possession of an offensive weapon
  • Dangerous driving
  • Handling stolen goods
  • Two counts of driving with no insurance
  • Two counts of not being in accordance with a licence
  • Possession of cannabis.

Enquiries into the robberies continued and on July 17, the second suspect, Manley, was arrested and charged a day later with three of the robberies and possession of offensive weapons.

Maher and Manley both appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court and were remanded into prison custody until 15 August.

Since first being charged, they were both implicated in further robberies involving knives.

Maher also pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods, dangerous driving and escape from lawful custody.

Maher was sentenced to 10 years and Manley to five years in jail.