A gang of callous thieves who terrorised Manchester, ransacking shops and threatening people with weapons including a saw-off shotgun have been jailed for more than 35 years collectively.
Romahn Richards, 23, of Oundle Close, Jake Prempeh, 25, of no fixed abode, Kayode Freeman, 22, of no fixed abode, and Omar Berryman, 26, of Hardy Lane, pleaded guilty to their varying degrees of involvement in the robberies.
The men were sentenced today for the crime spree, which took place in the space of just four weeks, at Manchester Crown Court today.
BERRYMAN: The 26-year-old was sentenced to six years and four months in prison
Berryman pleaded guilty to three counts of robbery and two counts of having a firearm with intent to cause fear or violence and was sentenced to six years and four months in prison.
PREMPEH: The 25-year-old was sentenced to 15 years and seven months in prison
Prempeh pleaded guilty to 11 counts of robbery, eight counts of having a firearm with intent to cause fear or violence, one count of possession of a firearm and one count of possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply and was sentenced to 15 years and seven months in prison.
RICHARDS: The 23-year-old was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison
Richards pleaded guilty to eight counts of robbery, six counts of having a firearm with intent to cause fear or violence and one count of dangerous driving and was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison.
FREEMAN: The 22-year-old was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison
Freeman pleaded guilty to five counts of robbery, three counts of having a firearm with intent to cause fear or violence and was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison.
Detective Constable Jennifer Wylde, from Greater Manchester Police’s Serious Crime Division, said: “Given the sheer volume of offences this gang committed over such a short period of time, I have no doubt they’d still be out there today threatening their victims at gunpoint were it not for the fact they were caught, and I hope people can sleep a little easier knowing they are now behind bars.”
A spate of robberies took place across Manchester and in Derbyshire between May 22 and June 17 last year, during which a sing-barrelled sawn-off shotgun was used to intimidate staff and shoppers at bookmakers and convenience stores.
Staff and members of the public were threatened with the weapon, and on some occasions the gun was pointed directly in their faces.
DC Wylde added: “Each of these four men played their part in terrifying robberies that left a number of the victims traumatised.
“So much so that many of them have either been unable to return to their place of work or it has cast such a shadow over their lives that it still causes them distress to this day.
“That is the effect criminals can have on innocent members of the public, particularly when a dangerous organised crime group with access to sawn-off shotguns are prepared to point them in people’s faces just to intimidate them.”
Members of the gang were eventually caught after committing an aggravated burglary in the Northamptonshire area on June 18 2014.
The gang had followed a couple home after they had been to a local casino and forced their way inside, locking the couple in a toilet while they raided the house.
After fleeing in a black Nissan Almera, police in Northampton pursued them through the city centre and eventually stopped the car, with Richards, Prempeh and Freeman inside.
Officers also seized a Dunlop bag with the single-barrelled sawn-off shotgun inside.
“Thanks to our colleagues in Northamptonshire Police, we were able to secure a litany of evidence against these men which has ultimately led to their convictions today,” said DC Wylde.
“What was seized from that car amounted to a robber’s kit, replete with a weapon, balaclavas and gloves.”
SAWN-OFF SHOTGUN: The gun was recovered in Northampton and linked to the crime spree in Manchester and Derbyshire
Police in Manchester were made aware since Richards and Freeman were well-known as being part of a Manchester organised crime group, and inquiries by GMP soon established the gun recovered was the same weapon used in a string of robberies that took place in Manchester and Derbyshire between May and June.
Officers also seized numerous bits of clothing including a black and white balaclava, orange and grey builders gloves, a grey hooded top and matching tracksuit bottoms, a blue Ralph Lauren hooded top and silver rimmed aviator style sunglasses.
Not only did these items have partial DNA matches for Richards, Prempeh and Freeman, but they also matched the clothing worn during previous robberies.
Mobile phone data also linked Berryman to two of the robberies, at the Coral Betting Shop in Chorlton on May 22 and at a Ladbrooks in Derbyshire five days later.
The getaway vehicle, a Citreon Picasso, used for the Ladbrooks job was also hired out in name of Berryman.
DC Wylde said: “Anyone who works in a shop, and anyone who walks into a shop, should never be confronted with such violence and it is unthinkable for the majority of us to ever face such a situation.
“I therefore hope shops and businesses across Manchester look at this case and see that Greater Manchester Police will do everything we can to bring such criminals to justice and send them to prison for a very long time.”
UNTHINKABLE: DC Wylde said nobody should be confronted with the level of violence the gang used
SUMMARY OF INCIDENTS FROM 2014 AND INVOLVEMENT OF OFFENDERS:
Robbery at Coral Betting Shop, Barlow Road, Chorlton, May 22. The cashier was struck over the head with the barrel of the shotgun (Berryman, Prempeh
Robbery at Ladbrooks Bookmakers, Monk Street, Derbyshire, May 27. (Berryman, Prempeh, Richards)
Attempted robbery at McDonalds, Oxford Road, Manchester, June 6. (Prempeh)
Robbery at Coral Bookmakers, Great Stone Road, Stretford, June 12. Gun pointed in the face of a member of staff and told he would be shot. (Prempeh, Richards)
Robbery at Best One, Old Moat Lane, Withington, June 12. (Prempeh, Richards)
Robbery at Sanket News, Liverpool Road, Irlam, June 14. (Prempeh, Richards, Freeman)
Attempted robbery, Elite Phones and Computers, Church Street, Eccles, June 16. Gun aimed at staff member while one of the offenders was heard to say ‘Shoot him’. (Prempeh, Richards, Freeman
Robbery, William Hill Bookmakers, Moston Lane, Moston, June 16. Customer has gun pointed directly at him and told he will be shot. (Prempeh, Richards, Freeman)