Oldham pair admit roles in £300,000 jewellery theft

Date published: 17 December 2018

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Two men from Oldham are awaiting sentence for the part they played in a massive heist in Newcastle back in May which saw the gang flee with around £300,000 worth of jewellery.

Manchester Crown Court heard how the gang (pictured below), which included 19-year-old Ali Askshor, of Sherwood Street, and 19-year-old Shah Almaruf, of Middleton Avenue, travelled to the North East to carry out surveillance on the shop in the spring of this year.

Twenty-year old Usman Khan, Newton Road in Birmingham, led the sophisticated plot to rob Sunny Jewellers on Tamworth Road.

Khan and his followers eventually sprang into action on May 16 this year in a smash and grab that lasted less than 50 seconds.

CCTV shown in court showed the moment gang member Ali Askhor posed as an innocent customer to gain entry to the jewellers.

The footage showed a staff member unlock the door at which point the rest of the gang burst into the shop wearing balaclavas, gloves and carrying hammers.

A jury was told how it was Usman Khan, Shahzad Farooq (21) and an unidentified third man who carried out the robbery.

They smashed the display cabinets with their weapons and stole jewellery estimated to be worth a staggering £300,000.

Smoke alarms in the shop were activated before the men fled the scene in a black Audi S5, leaving staff badly shaken but thankfully uninjured.

Detectives launched an investigation but they were dealt a blow when they discovered the gang had switched cars minutes after the robbery.

However, the breakthrough came two days later when officers received a call to say a vehicle had been dumped in a street in Oldham.

Enquiries identified the vehicle as the one involved in the heist and within days the main suspects had been identified.

Prosecutors told a court how mobile phone data proved it was Samantha Farrell-Blake (44), who had acted as the getaway driver following the robbery.

The court was told how police suspected Shah Almaruf then drove back to Newcastle in the days after the incident to collect the abandoned Audi.

The five suspects, who all lived in Oldham and Birmingham, were arrested and later charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.

Khan, Almaruf and Askhor admitted their part in the heist but Farrell-Blake and Farooq denied any involvement.

But on Wednesday (December 12) the pair were also found guilty of conspiracy to robbery at Manchester Crown Court. Now all five will be sentenced at the same court in February.

Following the conviction, investigating officer Detective Constable Steve Patterson said the convictions come as a result of "good, old-fashioned detective work".

He said: "Robberies like this one are rare in our region as we don't often get travelling criminals targetting the North East.

"The incident itself was over in a matter of seconds but the investigation to put this gang behind bars has taken months of good old-fashioned detective work.

"We have trawled CCTV, used ANPR, downloaded huge amounts of mobile phone data and spoken to hundreds of witnesses.

Picture courtesy of Google Street View

"Ultimately it came down to one call from a member of the public in Manchester who was concerned about a car that had been left on her street.

"That was the stroke of luck we needed in the investigation and from there the map of all those involved in the conspiracy started to come together.

"We had great assistance from the public but also from our colleagues working in both West Midlands Police and Greater Manchester Police's Serious and Organised Crime Team – their support was invaluable.

"Our only regret is that we were never able to recover the stolen jewellery but this case sends out a strong message to wannabe criminals.

"You may think you can travel hundreds of miles to commit violent crime for your own personal game. The reality is we will always find you and you will end up behind bars."

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Look at a video of the jewellery robbery in Newcastle