Defendants in jewellery shop 'sting' sentenced

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE LAST of a group of people caught in Scotland Yard's 'sting' operation with a fake jeweller's shop were sentenced yesterday.

Ronald Gowdie, Howard Holness and Clive Pink were all charged after going to the Stardust shop in Tottenham, north London, to commit a series of offences involving stolen jewellery and credit cards, Wood Green Crown Court was told.

They saw nothing suspicious about the shop's helpful and knowledgeable assistants or the two security cameras. But the assistants were undercover detectives, disclaimer forms on which sellers certified that they owned the property they were selling were printed on special fingerprint-sensitive paper and the shop was under surveillance from a police observation post.

The shop was a copy of operations carried out in the US by the FBI. Gowdie, 26, Holness, 25, and Pink, 27, were among nearly 40 offenders arrested at the end of the three-month operation, code-named Herring.

Gowdie, a travel agency worker, of Wood Green, north London, who at an earlier hearing admitted going equipped to cheat, false accounting, handling stolen goods and possessing cannabis, was jailed for a total of 18 months. Time spent in prison on remand meant his immediate release.

In a separate hearing, Holness, of Charlton, south-east London, and Pink, a former postman, of Catford, south-east London, had admitted a total of 14 offences of handling stolen goods, forgery and using a false instrument.

Holness, who asked for 51 other offences to be taken into consideration, was jailed for a total of 18 months. Pink was given a nine- month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Earlier defendants had challenged the legality of the scheme, which ran from December 1990 to March 1991. The Court of Appeal and House of Lords ruled that, though unorthodox, it was fair.