Old Course smash and grab gang jailed for 47 years

Paisley Sheriff Court
Paisley Sheriff Court

A violent London gang who attempted to target a St Andrews jewellers have been jailed for 47 years.

At the High Court in Paisley today (Wednesday) Paul Hogwood (56), Louie Attwood (21), Peter Attwood (44), Kevin Mulheron (34), Tommy Slayford (20), Benson Aluko (20) and Kai McGinley (17) were sentenced to a combined total of 47 years in prison.

Hogwood – who has a number of previous convictions including for similar crimes – was branded a “career criminal” and given the highest sentence of the gang, 10 years.

Peter Atwood, called a “serial criminal and ring leader” was jailed for nine years and Slayford was caged for five and a half years for his part.

Aluko, McGinley and Louie Atwood were handed five years each and told they were part of a conspiracy that would have “brought terror” to their intended victims.

The gang planned to smash their way into Mappin and Webb jewellers in the Old Course Hotel, St Andrews on March 3, 2015 and grab hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of goods was blocked by a national police effort.

The operation, which drew on intelligence and support from the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad Unit, the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit, together with local officers, stopped the crime before it could happen.

The gang bought weapons and carried out a recce in preparation of the heist.

But, unknown to the raiders, police had been watching and moved in shortly before they could carry out the crime. The gang later arrived in St Andrews primed to pounce on the jewellers. But, armed police instead swooped stopping the gang in their tracks.

The jury was told Hogwood later made a telephone call while on remand. During it, he said: “If they had turned up 10 minutes later, they would have caught us right in the act.”

Mulheron gave evidence during the trial, but insisted he was not aware of any robbery plans. He claimed he initially only returned to Scotland as he had a key for his brother’s home. Mulheron admitted being in St Andrews just before police moved in.

However, he said it was because some of the mob were supposed to be “meeting a guy”.

Recalling being held, he went on: “I just remember being dragged out of the motor, guns and all that.

“I was then taken to the police station and interviewed.”

Prosecutor Paul Brown branded his evidence a “charade” and “a load of nonsense”.

But, Mulheron replied: “I have not made anything up.”

They were remanded in custody after their convictions before being dealt their substantial sentences today.

“They are careless and reckless individuals,” said Detective Inspector Stevie Sandilands. “The impact that this robbery would have had on the staff at Mappin and Webb, the staff at the Old Course Hotel and the wider St Andrews community would have been horrific. It would have been a horrendous incident.”

Chief Inspector Adrian Annandale, local area commander for north east Fife and Levenmouth added: “St Andrews is not accustomed to crimes of this nature and a crime that has been planned on this scale would have had a significant impact and I think I would rather be sitting here talking about the successful conclusion of preventing this crime taking place rather than have to appeal for witnesses and reassure the community.”

“The impact, had it occurred, on the community, the business community, the tourism industry and the university would have been significant.”

Six of the gang, originating from London, were detained by armed police officers on Wardlaw Gardens and later arrested in Glasgow, with Louis Attwood, arrested shortly after in London.

Prior to arrest surveillance had identified that a number of the gang were purchasing weapons – including a machete, sledgehammer and knife – articles of clothing and items to be used in that robbery, also information came to light that the gang were in possession of two stolen scooters.

“I believe they were targeting this area as they saw it as a soft target,” said Detective Inspector Sandilands.

“This successful conclusion just shows St Andrews isn’t an easy target nor are there any easy targets because we will endeavour to bring those that are intent on committing serious and organised crime, to justice.”