Acton Robbery Gang Leader Jailed For 12 Years

'Fagin-like' character Lee Byer recruited young people to commit robberies

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Five members of a gang responsible for robberies in which more than £250,000 of money and jewellery was stolen were sentenced on Thursday 3 February.

The gang, who were recruited and organised by Lee Byer, 32, of Bollo Lane in Acton, targeted jewellers in Victoria and Richmond and were jailed for a total of 41 years at Kingston Crown Court. The five had previously pleaded guilty at the same court on 16 August and 18 October 2010.

The men were arrested after an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad, Barnes.

They identified Byer as the head of the gang, who acted as a Fagin-type character to recruit young members into the gang to commit the robberies.

Byer organised the robberies which included conducting target reconnaissance and arranging getaway vehicles but had limited participation in the actual offences.

During the course of these robberies £250,000 worth of property was stolen, and officers have so far recovered £100,000 worth of watches and other jewellery. The two jewellers robberies were committed on 5 February and 27 April 2010.

An element of violence was used in both of the offences, with staff and public being threatened by firearms. In one offence a young baby was covered with glass as the gang smashed display windows inside the jewellers shop whilst a gun was used to threaten the mother of a distressed child.

Detective Chief Inspector Pam Mace in charge of MPS Flying Squad at Barnes said: "Lee Byer was a prominent and influential figure within West London crime circles. He controlled a violent gang of young men, directing them to commit high value commercial robberies and regarded himself as untouchable.

"The lengthy and complex investigation by the Flying Squad, with the support of local borough officers, has resulted in all five pleading guilty, reflecting the compelling evidence gathered against them.

"I would like to pay tribute to the victims, including very young children, who have been severely traumatized by the actions of this gang."

Lee Byer, 32, of Bollo Lane, W3, pleaded guilty to robbery at H Stain Jewellers, Victoria on 27 April 2010 and conspiracy to commit robbery at Horton Jewellers, Richmond on 5 February 2010. He was jailed for 12 years.

Lascelle Lawrence, 21 of Irving Road, Hammersmith, Jake Whittingham, 21, of Denmark Road, Ealing and Tarik Foster, 17, of Northolt, pleaded guilty to robbery at H Stain Jewellers, Victoria on 27 April 2010. Lawrence and Whittingham where jailed for eight years each and Foster for four years and six months.

Andrew Duncan, 19, of Sidney Miller Court, South Acton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery at Horton Jewellers, Richmond. He was jailed for eight years and six months.

Details of the commercial robbery of Horton Jewellers in Richmond on February 5, 2010.

Two days before the robbery Lee Byer took a minicab with other males to Richmond. Byer was captured on CCTV walking past Horton Jewellers during the night conducting target reconnaissance. On February 5, 2010, Byer booked the same minicab and headed for Richmond. He left the minicab in a car park and instructed the driver to wait. Byer is in phone contact with Duncan. At approximately 14.45hrs, Duncan approached the venue and gained entry through the security door which he then held open for two males in boiler suits, hi-visibility clothing, hoods, masks and gloves. Duncan remained at the door watching the males as they pointed a handgun at staff and customers threatening them, including threats to shut up a screaming two year child. The suspects smashed display cabinets with a hammer, showering a child in a buggy with glass and removed a large quantity of high value jewellery from within the display cabinets thought to be worth approximately £150,000. The suspects including Duncan then ran out of the store towards Richmond Green to the waiting minicab and made off.

CCTV images of the smartly dressed doorman / lookout were circulated to local officers. Safer Neighbourhood Team officers with detailed knowledge of Andrew Duncan positively identified him from the images. As a result of this, research was conducted on Duncan which led to Lee Byer being identified. It was then established that during this robbery, Byer remained in constant contact and played the role of organizer with Duncan. Further enquiries identified Byer on CCTV days before the offence conducting reconnaissance.

Details of the commercial robbery at H Stain Jewellers in Victoria on April 27, 2010.

On April 27, 2010, at approximately 14:25 hrs. Foster acted as the door entry man and lookout.

Whittingham and Lawrence entered the premises and began smashing displays with a hammer. At one point the manager attempted to run out of the shop. Foster grabbed the manager around the neck and dragged him back inside. All three fled on foot and got into a silver Audi A3. The car was driven to the location by Byer, the organiser.

Details of the car was circulated and it was stopped in Exhibition Road two hours later. All four defendants were arrested and subsequently charged. Officers recovered approximately £100,000 of stolen jewellery.


6th February 2011