The final member of a gang who used taxis to travel around London and commit armed robberies will be sentenced this afternoon (13 December) at Harrow Crown Court.
Russell Aljaf, aged 20 (dob 04/05/1993), of Marsham Street, SW1, changed his plea four days into his trial and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob, burglary and possession of an imitation firearm. He also pleaded guilty to being in possession of an imitation firearm for the purposes of crime, related to an offence in February 2013. Today he will be sentenced.
Sadiq Bendriss, aged 20 (dob 07/06/1993) of Glasgow House, Lanark Road, W9, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and possession of an imitation firearm on 5 April 2013. He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
Kurrin Bendriss, aged 19 (dob 25/05/1994) of Glasgow House, Lanark Road, W9, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and possession of an imitation firearm on 5 April 2013. He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
,Lamin Joof aged 21 (dob 15/08/1992), of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and possession of an imitation firearm on 5 April 2013. He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
A fifth man is also due to face trial in the new year.
The Flying Squad launched Operation Ondrea in March 2013 in response to a gang carrying out a series of armed robberies on hotels, mini cab drivers and lone members of the public.
On Monday, 25 March 2013 the gang booked a mini cab from Russell Aljaf’s home address in Westminster. They then got the taxi driver to drive round London for the night whilst they committed two robberies.
The first offences took place in Inverness Place, W2, where a taxi driver was robbed at gun point, after three men threatened him with a gun. They managed to steal a mobile phone and car keys. The second offence took place at The King Solomon Hotel, Golders Green, when three men entered the hotel armed with a hand gun. They verbally threatened the hotel staff, and robbed them of their cash.
The taxi driver was at first completely unaware of what they were doing, until he was contacted by police after his registration plate was noted down by a member of the public. .
On Friday, 29 March Kurrin Bendriss and Russell Aljaf booked and took a mini cab from the Hilton Hotel, Praed Street, Paddington. En route they collected Bendriss and Lamin Joof from the Bendriss’s home address . The taxi driver was directed to The Kings Hotel, Kings Cross. Once at the hotel the gang robbed the lone receptionist, threatening them with a gun, and stealing £300.
The mini cab was then directed to Igar Hotel, Salusbury Road, Kilburn. Five men got out the taxi, went into the hotel, where one of them brandished a gun. The hotel had little cash, so the men left with only a small amount of money before fleeing back to the waiting minicab.
At this stage the mini cab driver realised what was happening so drove to his cab office and ran in seeking help. All of the men fled on foot from the cab office.
At 23:00 that night the men booked another mini cab that they directed to Fisherton Street, NW8, once they got there they robbed the driver at gun point, and left the cab on foot.
Shortly after midnight on 30 March, they booked a new minicab from Delancey Street, NW1. They told the driver to drive to various locations, which they were openly discussing robbing. The men were overheard saying they wanted to rob brothels, and made the mini cab drive around for six hours looking for potential targets.
The men went on to rob two further women in the Fulham area, both women were on their own at the time of the robberies. Once back in the mini cab one of the men tracked down one of the women’s home address from her driving licence. They then directed the driver to her address where they burgled the house.
The taxi driver, who has stated he was in fear for his life, called police at just after 0500 as soon as the men got out of his car.
Flying Squad officers were able to identify Russell Aljaf as one of the men, and he was arrested and charged on 2 April.
Sadiq Bendriss, Kurrin Bendriss and Lamin Joof were then arrested on 3 April after they committed another armed robbery on a taxi driver who had collected them. They stole the taxi drivers PDA that allowed police to track the device to the Bendriss’ home address. Specialist firearms officers executed a warrant at the address, and the three were found inside with the stolen PDA. One of the men also threw the taxi driver’s car keys from the balcony of the address.
Detective Constable Rob McGee, the investigating officer from the Flying Squad, said: “I am really pleased that this gang is off London’s streets and no longer able to carry on committing these robberies. The level of violence and the disturbingly blatant way they carried out these crimes clearly demonstrated they had no regard for the law.
“Throughout this investigation we have received huge support from the victims and a number of witnesses who made the prosecution possible. I would like to thank them all for their help and bravery. The evidence was so overwhelming the gang all pleaded guilty.
Source: Metropolitan Police Service