Two more guilty over Mayfair jewellery heist

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The Independent Online

Two more men were today found guilty of taking part in the UK's biggest jewellery robbery.

Solomun Beyene, 25, of Marylebone, north-west London, and Clinton Mogg, 43, of Bournemouth, were found guilty of conspiracy to rob by a jury at Woolwich Crown Court.

A total of four men have been convicted for their roles in the heist at Graff Diamonds in Mayfair, central London, last summer, in which £40 million of gems were stolen at gunpoint.

The jury was unable to reach a verdict on Craig Calderwood, 27, and a decision on a possible retrial will be made at the court tomorrow morning.

Calderwood, of no fixed address, had been accused of planning and executing the heist alongside Aman Kassaye, 25, who was earlier convicted of kidnap, conspiracy to rob and possessing a firearm.

Kassaye used a professional make-up artist to disguise his appearance and a series of getaway cars to escape after the robbery last summer, the court heard.

The gems taken in the robbery have never been recovered.

Beyene's role in the heist was to buy so-called dirty telephones and hire a van to use as a blocking vehicle, while Mogg provided the London address used by the innocent make-up artist, who did not know about the planned raid.

They were found guilty by a majority verdict on the 16th day of the jury's deliberations.

Calderwood, who had denied conspiracy to rob and possession of a handgun and sawn-off shotgun, was discharged.

The fourth man who was found guilty of conspiracy to rob was Thomas Thomas, 46, of Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames. He had used blocking vehicles after the heist, the jury was told.

Two other men accused of conspiracy to rob were found not guilty last week.

Courtney Lawrence, 31, of Ladbroke Grove, west London, and David Joseph, 23, of Flaxman Road, Loughborough Junction, south-east London, walked free after being cleared by the jury.

The raiders shot at anyone who got in their way, Woolwich Crown Court was told.

Footage was shown to the jury of Kassaye firing a shot in the street outside the store as passers-by began to realise what was happening, sending them running for cover.

Kassaye's defence rested on his assertion that the raid was carried out "by someone remarkably like him", but Petra Ehnar, the shop assistant held at gunpoint during the raid, identified him.

Philip Bennetts, for the prosecution, told jurors that after what happened, "his facial features would be etched in her mind forever".

Ms Ehnar said she was "petrified" when she was forced to empty the store's display cabinet with a gun to her back.

She told police: "This was the first time I have ever been subjected to an armed robbery and I was petrified. I was thinking, 'I am going to be shot, killed', I had no idea.

"It is the most terrifying experience a person can be put through as you have no control over the situation that you find yourself in."

She was forced to fill 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.

The four men convicted will be sentenced at a later date.