April 17 2014 Latest news:
, Crime correspondent
Friday, August 31, 2012
The son of controversial Muslim cleric Abu Hamza is one of two men found guilty of carrying out a smash and grab raid at a Norfolk jewellers.
The raid at Francis Wain, in King’s Lynn, during which £83,000 worth of gems were stolen, happened shortly before 10am on January 31 and involved four men.
Imran Mostafa, 20, from Deverills Way, Slough, and Jonathon Abdul, 17, of Fulham High Street, London, had both pleaded not guilty to robbery and possessing a firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence.
But a jury of nine women and two men at Norwich Crown Court yesterday took less than six hours to find Mostafa – the son of Abu Hamza, and Abdul – who previously could not be named as he is 17, guilty of both counts.
A contempt of court order had been put in place during the trial to prohibit the EDP and other media identifying Mostafa as Abu Hamza’s son, but was lifted by Judge Peter Jacobs after the verdict was announced.
The court then heard from Ian James, prosecuting, who told the jury Mostafa’s parentage was “as we thought”.
He said: “His father is a gentleman called Abu Hamza.”
Judge Jacobs told the jury he had put an order in place during the trial because he “didn’t ever want there to be an argument that the jury’s verdict was influenced by this knowledge”.
In July, London-based Abu Hamza appealed to the European Court of Human Rights against his extradition to the US on terror charges.
The appeal 24 hours before the deadline expired further delayed the case.
It means he cannot be removed until a panel decides if the court’s Grand Chamber should hear new submissions from his lawyers.
The charges on the indictment include hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998.
Judge Jacobs also lifted an order banning the identification of Abdul, who is 17, and was not able to be named during the trial. The decision was not contested by Abdul’s legal representatives.
Mr James said Abdul, who was born in Italy and has 11 alias names, has 18 previous convictions for a total of 33 offences.
They will both be sentenced at a date to be fixed, either in September or October, alongside Ossama Hamed, 19, of Greswell Street, in Fulham, and Ahmed Ahmed, 20, of Nag’s Head Road in Enfield, who had previously admitted the same charges.
Speaking after the verdicts had been announced, Det Insp Stuart Chapman said the family connection to Abu Hamza “did not influence the investigation”.
The trial heard Hamed, Mostafa and Ahmed had been seen in Lynn the week before the robbery in a distinctive silver BMW.
All four men were seen on CCTV in the town centre the day before the robbery.
On the morning of the robbery the BMW and a silver Mercedes Viano were driven through Lynn.
Three of the men got out of the van and entered the store at 9.50am, wearing hooded tops with their faces covered and the fourth kept the Mercedes’s engine running discharging smoke.
The jury were shown shocking footage of the raid during which one masked man brandished a gun at terrified staff, while another smashed glass cabinets with a hammer, grabbing armfuls of gems.
Inside the store staff activated an alarm but the men left in the van, driving off along Norfolk Street.
The van made off along Chapel Lane where it was abandoned on Pilot Street and the suspects transferred to the BMW to make their escape.
Later the same day, the BMW was stopped on the A12 on the outskirts of London with Hamed driving.
The van was seized by police and some items of jewellery from the store were found inside.
The van was displaying number plates that had been stolen from London and further stolen plates were found inside.
The van itself had been stolen from London in November 2011.
Officers also found a number of items of clothing in Pilot Street, two of which forensically linked Mostafa and Ahmed to the crime and several items of clothing and jewellery stands were later found at Gayton, which forensically linked Abdul and Hamed.
Det Sgt Matt Stuart said: “This was an extremely rare incident for King’s Lynn, and Norfolk as a whole, and as such caused a great deal of fear in the local community.
“The males bursting from the van, faces covered, carrying a gun and other weapons, smashing glass and setting off smoke in the street, was very frightening for the staff inside the shop and passers-by.
“This was a carefully planned offence, with vehicles stolen, number plates changed and the area visited days beforehand. Extensive investigative inquiries led to the offenders being identified, charged and the jury subsequently reaching their verdict of guilty.”
Det Insp Chapman added: “This was a frightening incident for the staff and members of the public where, fortunately, no one was physically hurt.
“These males have chosen to come to Norfolk from London to commit this crime, and we have demonstrated that you cannot get away with it. Working together with our colleagues from other forces and the Crown Prosecution Service these men have been brought to justice.
“Norfolk is a safe place, and anyone coming here to try to disrupt it by violent means will be prosecuted.”