Jewellery store owner purchased £12,000 stolen necklace from East Anglian burglary gang, court hears
- Credit: Archant
A jewellery store owner who purchased a stolen £12,000 diamond necklace from an East Anglian criminal gang was 'too busy' to ask for their ID, a court heard.
Ammir Kohanzad, who owns Danesh International Jewellery in Hatton Garden, London, is one of four men on trial in connection with a gang which carried out more than 200 burglaries.
Norwich Crown Court previously heard how members of the gang targeted premises across the region between February and December 2017 - stealing more than £2m worth of property.
Kohanzad, 68, of Ingestre Road, Calver, London, is accused of handling stolen goods, which he denies.
Prosecutor William Carter told a jury on Wednesday a necklace was sold to the defendant on November 2, 2017, by Charlie Webb and John Eli Loveridge.
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Both men have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle.
Mr Carter said the necklace was later identified as being stolen from a property in Brinkley, Cambridgeshire, on October 18 last year.
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During that incident, burglars stole around £51,000-worth of items which belonged to a semi-retired antiques dealer.
Mr Carter said Webb and Loveridge were monitored by police as they travelled to Kohanzad's shop in London on the morning of November 2.
All three men were caught on the shop's CCTV cameras as the transaction was made.
Mr Carter said: 'Webb had a small brown case in his hand, which he had taken from underneath his top and he placed it on the counter.
'The item [inside] was an antique necklace worth £12,000 or more.'
The court heard how Webb wrote 'something' on a piece of paper and was paid in cash. Both men left the store within five minutes.
Mr Carter said: 'He was asked what steps did he take to establish the people who were selling it had the right to sell it.'
'He [Kohanzad] said he had not asked them for any identification. He said it had been a busy day and he did not really have the time.
Mr Carter said after the two men left, 'a slightly odd thing happened' at about 2.24pm.
He said a text message was sent to Kohanzad's phone from someone who said they were 'John's mum'.
'The message says 'can you get this? It's John's mum',' Mr Carter said.
'He [Kohanzad] responds 'I can try to get something like that'.'
'It is curious and the crown would say that message is somewhat undermining of Mr Kohanzad's claim that he did not know the men.'
The court heard that police executed a search warrant on his store at 5pm that day.
He was interviewed by officers on November 3.
Mr Carter said: 'The significance of the arrival of police might have put Mr Kohanzad on notice that dealing with these individuals was not good for his professional health.'
But he said that on November 5, Kohanzad received another visit from Webb, Loveridge, Joseph Holmes - who has also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle - and another unidentified man.
This time, Mr Carter said Kohanzad paid £5,300 for gold they were selling.
Two days later on November 7, police again raided his shop.
Kohanzad was arrested in January 2018.
During a police interview he told officers he paid £1,500 for the necklace.
Mr Carter said: 'He said he would have asked them for ID but he had been so busy he had not.'
Kohanzad told police he asked the men where the necklace had come from, and was told they had 'inherited' it, the court heard.
Also standing trial accused of handling stolen goods was James Pateman, 55, of Wollens Brook, Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.
Mr Carter said Pateman was found with stolen silverware worth up to £30,000 in the back of his car on October 19 – one day after the Brinkley burglary.
Pateman, who has denied the charge against him, was arrested after being spotted buying silverware from two men in Royston, Hertfordshire.
'It is not suggested by prosecution that the meeting had anything at all to do with the property stolen at Brinkley the day before,' Mr Carter said.
'What did happen was that the dealings with these two men led to his arrest and search of his vehicle.'
Mr Carter said Pateman was arrested after a member of the public, who witnessed the deal, grew suspicious and called police.
At 3.20pm on October 19, Pateman, who was driving a red Range Rover, was stopped by officers.
Mr Carter said there was a quantity of cash in the lining of the ceiling of his vehicle, a red suitcase containing silver jewellery in the rear footwell, and silverware in a basket on the back seat.
Pateman told police he bought the items from a man he did not know at a car park in Peterborough.
Mr Carter said the silverware was later shown to the victim of the Brinkley burglary.
'He has identified almost all of the silverware in the car as his property,' Mr Carter said.
'He gave a value of around £25,000 to £30,000.'
Mr Carter added that some of the items in Pateman's car were not linked to the Brinkley burglary.
Pateman was arrested but chose to answer 'no comment' to the questions, the court heard.
He was later interviewed by police in January 2018, where he produced a receipt for the items, dated October 18.
Attempts to trace the name of the seller on the receipt had 'drawn a blank' with police, Mr Carter said.
He added: 'On the face of it, Mr Pateman is producing a receipt for items bought before they were stolen.'
In a police interview, Pateman said two men he did not know turned up at his dad's yard on October 18 asking if he dealt in gold or silver.
Mr Carter said: 'They told him they had a shop in Peterborough which had closed down and they wanted to sell stock.'
Pateman told police he paid £4,600 for the items.
When asked about his previous comments regarding the purchase from a man in Peterborough, Pateman told police he had been 'misunderstood' by the officer who had 'got it wrong', the court heard.
The court heard how Thomas Pateman, who runs TTJ's Cash for Gold, a company which buys and sells precious metals, was raided by police in May last year.
Mr Carter said police found various gold and silver items which were subsequently identified as belonging to burglary victims.
He added that when officers searched his home address, they found more than £12,500 in cash.
The court heard the majority of stolen items were found in a plastic bag in a grey bin towards the rear of Pateman's shop.
Mr Carter said as of May last year, police were 'well aware' there had been a spate of burglaries.
In order to identify the owners of jewellery, police held open days where victims could come and see the recovered items.
Mr Carter said: 'They did identify stolen property amongst the property seized.'
Pateman, 54, of Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, denies a charge of handling stolen goods.
Simon Oakley, of Alburgh Road, Hempnall, is accused of conspiracy to commit burglary.
The 45-year-old, who owns Stratton Quickfit in Long Stratton, denies the charge.
Mr Carter said Oakley supplied false number plates for stolen vehicles used by the gang.
He described him as an 'integral part' of the conspiracy.
The court heard how Oakley's business had equipment designed to print licence plates.
Mr Carter said when officers checked the printing machine, they found a 'very large number' of plates which they knew had been used for vehicles involved in burglaries.
The court heard how the gang would take high-end vehicles from homes, change the number plates, and then use them for other crimes.
Mr Carter said that on February 6 a black Audi RS4 was stolen from Spalding in Lincolnshire.
Two days later, Oakley received a text message containing a number plate from a man called Timothy Stone-Parker.
Mr Carter told the jury Stone-Parker had already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle.
'It does beg a number of questions,' he said. 'It may be that there is a perfectly innocent explanation for this, but simply texting a number plate does tend to suggest that no other information was needed at that time as far as Mr Oakley was concerned.'
Mr Carter told the jury that Oakley's phone records showed he was contacted by other individuals who had already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burglary. He said when Oakley was interviewed by police, he told officers he did not know everyone he was making number plates for or 'what they were doing with them'.
The trial continues.