Police defend decision to let Yardie killer into Britain

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The Independent Online

Scotland Yard yesterday robustly defended a covert operation which allowed a Jamaican Yardie gunman into Britain to enhance a leading informant's "street" credibility in the hope of securing evidence about a drug-gang war which led to 13 murders.

But amid a furore in which the Metropolitan Police were accused of risking people's lives after the "grade A" informant and the Jamaican robbed a blues party in Nottingham at gunpoint, a senior detective said it was deeply regretted that the operation had gone sour.

Embarrassing details of the operation emerged during a trial lasting 16 weeks at Leicester Crown Court where the gunman, Rohan Thomas, 36, was convicted of armed robbery.

The police informer, Eaton Green, 27, had already admitted possessing a firearm, conspiracy to rob and unlawful wounding after he and Thomas shot one of the party-goers in the foot and systematically robbed more than 100 others. They will be sentenced next month.

A second suspected Yardie, Cecil Thomas, 35, who entered the country with Rohan Thomas though he is not related, was cleared of conspiracy and possession of a firearm. He faces deportation to Jamaica.

The two men entered Britain in February 1993 with the knowledge of Green's handler, PC Stephen Barker, though officers conceded they had lost track of them when they carried out the robbery at a Nottingham warehouse three months later.

Scotland Yard was severely criticised by Chris Winterton, Nottinghamshire Police Authority chairman, who said that it was "far from satisfactory" that lives had been put at risk by the operation.

Commander John Grieve, Scotland Yard's director of intelligence, conceded that some would say the danger posed had been unacceptable and he "deeply regretted" that the operation had led to a robbery.

However, Commander Grieve was adamant that the presence of the two Jamaicans had increased Green's standing among Yardie gangs. This had enabled him to provide "mountains" of valuable information against a backdrop of internecine drug-related gang warfare in south London, which had led to 13 deaths in the preceding 18 months.

"He [Green] was well worth the investment," said Commander Grieve. "It is extremely unfortunate and to the detriment of the people of London that we no longer have him."

During the trial it became clear that Scotland Yard knew that Rohan Thomas, known as Colonel Bumpy, had travelled to Britain using a false passport and had been jailed in Jamaica for 15 years for shooting a policeman.

Police documents also revealed that the men who entered the country on Green's say-so had each murdered 10 men in Jamaica.

However, Commander Grieve said that the men's backgrounds had not been known to the police when they entered the country, or that they had entered illegally.