Jury selection begins in De Graff heist trial

Jury selection began today in the case of nine men accused of taking part in Britain's biggest jewellery robbery.

The defendants are all charged in relation to the £40 million raid on Graff jewellers in New Bond Street, Mayfair, central London, on August 6 last year.

Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC will oversee the 10-week trial at Woolwich Crown Court in London.

A panel of 19 jurors was chosen today. The final 12 are due to be selected and sworn in tomorrow, with the trial expected to open on Wednesday.

A gang forced a woman employee to fill a bag with 43 pieces of jewellery, including earrings, necklaces and watches.

They used a series of getaway cars and a motorcycle to escape across the capital, firing two shots in the process.

All nine defendants are charged with conspiracy to rob Graff jewellers between August 3 and August 7 2009.

Aman Kassaye, 24, of no fixed address, is also charged with kidnap and possession of a handgun and sawn-off shotgun.

Craig Calderwood, 27, also of no fixed address, is charged with possessing a handgun and sawn-off shotgun.

The other seven defendants are:

* Solomun Beyene, 25, of Lilestone Street, Marylebone, north-west London;

* Clinton Jamal Mogg, 42, of Westby Road, Bournemouth, Dorset;

* Courtney Lawrence, 31, of Ladbroke Grove, west London;

* Gregory Jones, 30, of Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, west London;

* Benjamine McFarlane, 22, of Paveley Street, Marylebone, north-west London;

* David Joseph, 23, of Flaxman Road, Loughborough Junction, south-east London; and

* Thomas Thomas, 45, of Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames.