Four plead guilty to firearm offences

Russell Aljaf, aged 20 of Marsham Street, SW1, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob, burglary and possession of an imitation firearm. He also pleaded guilty to being in possession of an imitation firearm for the purposes of crime, related to an offence in February 2013.

Sadiq Bendriss, aged 20 of Glasgow House, Lanark Road, W9, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and possession of an imitation firearm on 5 April 2013. He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment. Kurrin Bendriss, aged 19 of Glasgow House, Lanark Road, W9, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and possession of an imitation firearm on 5 April 2013. He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

Lamin Joof, aged 21, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and possession of an imitation firearm on 5 April 2013. He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. A fifth man is also due to face trial this year.

The Flying Squad launched Operation Ondrea in March 2013 in response to a gang carrying out a series of armed robberies on hotels, minicab drivers and members of the public. On Monday, 25 March 2013 the gang booked a minicab from Russell Aljaf’s home address in Westminster. They then got the minicab driver to drive round London for the night whilst they committed two robberies. The first offences took place in Inverness Place, W2, where a minicab driver was robbed at gun point, after three men threatened him with a gun. They managed to steal a mobile phone and car keys.

The second offence took place at The King Solomon Hotel, Golders Green, when three men entered the hotel armed with a hand gun. They verbally threatened the hotel staff, and robbed them of their cash. The minicab driver was at first completely unaware of what they were doing, until he was contacted by police after his registration plate was noted down by a member of the public.

On Friday, 29 March Kurrin Bendriss and Russell Aljaf booked and took a minicab from the Hilton Hotel, Praed Street, Paddington. En route they collected Bendriss and Lamin Joof from the Bendriss’s home address. The minicab driver was directed to The Kings Hotel, Kings Cross. Once at the hotel the gang robbed the lone receptionist, threatening them with a gun, and stealing £300. The minicab was then directed to Igar Hotel, Salusbury Road, Kilburn. Five men got out the minicab, went into the hotel, where one of them brandished a gun.

The hotel had little cash, so the men left with only a small amount of money before fleeing back to the waiting minicab. At this stage the minicab driver realised what was happening so drove to his cab office and ran in seeking help. All of the men fled on foot from the cab office. At 23:00 that night the men booked another minicab that they directed to Fisherton Street, NW8, once they got there they robbed the driver at gun point, and left the cab on foot. Shortly after midnight on 30 March, they booked another minicab from Delancey Street, NW1.

They told the driver to drive to various locations, which they were openly discussing robbing. The men were overheard saying they wanted to rob brothels, and made the minicab drive around for six hours looking for potential targets. The men went on to rob two further women in the Fulham area; both women were on their own at the time of the robberies. Once back in the minicab one of the men tracked down one of the women’s home address from her driving licence. They then directed the driver to her address where they burgled the house.

The minicab driver, who has stated he was in fear for his life, called police at just after 0500hrs as soon as the men got out of his car. Flying Squad officers were able to identify Russell Aljaf as one of the men, and he was arrested and charged on 2 April. Sadiq Bendriss, Kurrin Bendriss and Lamin Joof were then arrested on 3 April after they committed another armed robbery on a minicab driver, who had collected them.

They stole drivers PDA that allowed police to track the device to the Bendriss’ home address. Specialist firearms officers executed a warrant at the address, and the three were found inside with the stolen PDA. One of the men also threw the minicab driver’s car keys from the balcony of the address. Detective Constable Rob McGee, the investigating officer from the Flying Squad, said: “I am really pleased that this gang is off London’s streets and no longer able to carry on committing these robberies. The level of violence and the disturbingly blatant way they carried out these crimes clearly demonstrated they had no regard for the law. “Throughout this investigation we have received huge support from the victims and a number of witnesses who made the prosecution possible. I would like to thank them all for their help and bravery. The evidence was so overwhelming the gang all pleaded guilty.”

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