Four men convicted of robbing London’s Graff Diamonds of 40 million pounds, or $64 million worth of jewelry last year, were on Friday sentenced to a collective 71 years in prison at London’s Woolwich Crown Court. Last year they forced their way into Graff’s Bond Street store and made off with a haul of jewelry that included marquise diamond rings, men’s watches and a necklace made from scores of multicolored and white diamonds.
Aman Kassaye, who on August 6, 2009 used a gun to threaten Graff’s sales assistants before stealing the jewelry, was sentenced to 16 years in prison for conspiracy to rob, five years for use of a firearm and two years for kidnap (Kassaye had dragged one of the sales assistants into the street at gunpoint and threatened to kill her if she did not cooperate by filling a bag with jewelry.) Three further men, Solomun Beyene, Clinton Mogg and Thomas Thomas were each jailed for 16 years for conspiracy to rob. The three were involved with hiring vans to block the street and providing a London address where an unwitting makeup artist disguised Kassaye. The jury could not agree a verdict on another defendant, Craig Calderwood. Police are still looking for a motorcyclist who is believed to have driven off with the stolen jewelry, which has never been recovered.
Detective Chief Inspector Pam Mace of London’s Metropolitan Police, who led the investigation, said in a statement Friday: "The significant prison sentences handed down in this case reflect the seriousness of this offence and impact it has had on the lives of innocent members of the public,” she stated. "There remains an active ongoing investigation and we continue to appeal to anyone, including criminal associates, for information to trace the motor bike rider, and the whereabouts of the jewelry.” Mace added that a 1 million pounds, or $1.6 million reward is still on offer in connection with the identification, arrest and prosecution of those responsible, and the recovery of the stolen jewelry.