Anthony FranceWed, 31 March 2021, 2:28 pm
Patrick Delaney, 30, led eight masked criminals behind a string of robberies and aggravated burglaries in well-heeled areas of north London.
Victims included ex-Arsenal footballer Mesut Ozil and his teammate Sead Kolasinac who were targeted for luxury watches worth £200,000.
Between April and July 2020, suspects forced their way into homes or confronted people in their cars demanding money or high value items in Finchley, Barnet and Hampstead.
The gang regularly carried zombie knives and machetes to threaten their victims.
In all, 20 offences are believed to have been committed by various members sometimes working in pairs but usually working in groups of four or five.
Detectives from the Met Police’s Flying Squad linked the series and placed them under surveillance.
Undercover officers witnessed four men wearing masks carry out a burglary at an address in Barnet Gate on July 20 last year, Harrow Crown Court heard.
The householders were away and shortly after entering, the suspects activated an alarm and fled empty-handed.
They made off in an Audi, which was on false plates, having been stolen five days earlier from a raid in Golders Green.
Half an hour later, they attempted to rob the occupants of an unmarked police car in Thurlow Crescent, Hampstead.
The gang used a metal bar in an attempt to smash the car window, but only caused minor damage.
As a result, Flying Squad officers and a police helicopter descended on the scene and the four fled in the stolen car which was abandoned near a railway bridge in Gordon House Road.
The suspects were followed by officers to a nearby flat. Steven Barton, 20, and Jordan Northover, 28, tried to flee on bicycles but were arrested.
Cheyenne Cato, 27, and Ryan Leurs, 19, were arrested inside the address where three large machetes and zombie knives were found.
As a result of evidence, other members of the gang were later arrested.
Delaney, from Camden received 16 years for conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary and attempted robbery.
Cato, from West Hampstead, was sentenced to 15 years.
Northover, of no fixed address, was sentenced to a total of 18 years. He was also given six years for attempting to rob Gunners stars Ozil and Kolasinac in July 2019.
Leurs, from Hampstead and Barton, from Camden, each received nine years.
Martin Delaney, 29, from Camden, got 11 years. Kiaron Jones-Hewitt, 27, from West Hampstead, was given eight years.
Additionally, Andy Kiasuka-Kiakanda, 26, from St John’s Wood, received 14 years and four months.
Detective Sergeant Gary Taylor, of the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “The way this gang targeted their victims and threatened them with weapons during their crime spree was truly shocking and abhorrent.
“The impact these heinous crimes have had on the victims cannot be understated.
“These defendants wrongly thought they wouldn’t be caught.
“However, Flying Squad officers were able to close the net on these robbers and bring them into custody after a proactive surveillance operation.
“I would like to praise the victims for supporting this prosecution, and I hope these convictions will go some way to giving them some comfort. Across London, officers are working hard to keep the public safe by identifying people involved in serious violence and bringing them to justice.”