Jury out in £40m jewel robbery trial

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The Independent Online

The jury trying seven men over a £40 million armed raid on a jeweller's retired today to begin its deliberations.

Aman Kassaye, 24, and Craig Calderwood, 27, are accused of planning and executing the "high stakes" heist at Graff Diamonds in Mayfair, central London, last summer.

They used professional make-up artists to disguise their appearance and a series of getaway cars to escape across the capital, shooting at anybody who got in their way, Woolwich Crown Court in south east London was told.

Petra Ehnar, a shop assistant at the store in New Bond Street, told the jury of eight women and four men that she was "petrified" when the two men forced her to empty the store's display cabinets with a gun to her back.

She filled a bag with 43 pieces of jewellery including earrings, necklaces and watches worth a total of £40 million. One diamond necklace alone was valued at £3.5 million.

They told her she would be killed if she did not carry out their demands.

Kassaye and Calderwood both deny conspiracy to rob between August 3 and August 7 last year.

Kassaye, of no fixed address, additionally denies kidnap and possession of a handgun and sawn-off shotgun.

Calderwood, also of no fixed address, denies possessing a handgun and sawn-off shotgun.

Five other defendants deny the conspiracy charge.

Solomun Beyene, 25, of Lilestone Street, Marylebone, north west London, is accused of buying so-called dirty telephones and hiring a van used as one of the blocking vehicles.

Clinton Mogg, 43, of Westby Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, allegedly provided the London address used by an innocent make-up artist to make Kassaye and Calderwood look older than they were.

Courtney Lawrence, 31, of Ladbroke Grove, west London, is accused of being involved in the purchase of further mobile phones.

David Joseph, 23, of Flaxman Road, Loughborough Junction, south east London, allegedly used one of the blocking vehicles and his fingerprints were found on the false number plate used on the rear of the BMW getaway car.

Thomas Thomas, 45, of Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, south west London, is accused of hiring further blocking vehicles used by the gang.

Two other men - Gregory Jones, 30, of Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, west London, and Benjamine McFarlane, 22, of Paveley Street, Marylebone, north west London - were cleared of the charge last month after Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC ruled they had no case to answer.