(L-R) Jeremy Mbwese, 19, Jay Koabo, 18, Jayden Atkins, 18, and Gavneet Johal, 18, were jailed for conspiracy to rob. (Credit: Met Police)
Terrified Taxi and Private Hire drivers in Redbridge had knives held to their throats whilst their property and cash was stolen during a series of horrifying attacks.
Drivers across the borough and in Havering were left terrified by the 22 incidents which saw two women set up the attacks under fake bookings organised by them.
Upon arriving at the location, they were ambushed by one of the men jailed today and subjected to “to severe acts of violence and intimidation” before being forced to hand over cash and jewellery.
In total, the teens got away with approximately £2,000 in cash and property including mobile phones, sat navs, car keys and a wedding ring from a victim’s finger.
Most of the drivers were physically assaulted with one receiving a knife wound to the face.
The Recorder broke the story in September 2015, when several drivers told this paper they were quitting their jobs over the attacks for fear of their lives.
Five teenagers were sentenced and jailed for a total of 29 years at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday, including two from the borough.
A 17-year-old teenage boy from the Seven Kings area pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and was jailed for six years.
Gavneet Johal, 18, of Oakwood Gardens, Seven Kings, was also jailed for three-and-a-half year, for her part in setting up the attacks.
Jayden Atkins, 18, of Estuary Close, Barking, received five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment and Jay Koabo, of Crescent Road, Dagenham, was jailed for eight years.
Jeremy Mbwese, 19 of Cairo Road, Walthamstow, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and was jailed for six years.
Officers at Ilford police station launched Operation Taxa to deal with the spate of robberies between August 3 and September 29 in 2015.
Following an extensive investigation by Ilford CID, officers raided homes across four London boroughs and arrested the suspects.
Evidence including mobile phones, sat navs and a photograph of the wedding ring was recovered - unfortunately the ring itself has never been found.
Det Cons Jon Mercer, the investigating officer from Ilford Crime Investigating Department, said the teenagers had never shown any remorse for their calculated attacks.
He said: “The youths responsible went to great effort planning the robberies and carefully selecting their intended victims.
“The victims were, by virtue of their own livelihood, extremely vulnerable and placed in situations that can best be described as terrifying.
“Lone drivers were subjected to gratuitous physical assaults whilst having a large knife held to their necks during times of darkness and in secluded areas.
“Not only did the victims lose personal items of property and cash, the psychological damage they suffered is irreparable.
“The defendants have shown no remorse and the jail term received by each not only demonstrates the gravity of their crime, but is also a reflection on their attitude towards these offences against hard-working members of the community.”
Source : Ilford Recorder