Men convicted for St Andrews robbery plot

Son of Peter and another one of the seven men who were convicted of planning to carry out an armed robbery in St Andrews on March 3.
Son of Peter and another one of the seven men who were convicted of planning to carry out an armed robbery in St Andrews on March 3.

A crime gang are behind bars after planning to rob a top jewellers using scooters for a getaway.

The seven-strong mob had targeted the Mappin and Webb store based at the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews in March 2015.

Peter Atwood one of the seven men who were convicted of planning to carry out an armed robbery in St Andrews

Peter Atwood one of the seven men who were convicted of planning to carry out an armed robbery in St Andrews

Weapons were bought, a recce was carried out on the shop while two scooters were stolen 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.

It led to Kevin Mulheron (34), Thomas Slayford (20), Paul Hogwood (56), Peter Attwood (44), Benson Aluko (20), Kai McGinley (18) and Louie Attwood (21) being convicted of conspiracy to rob.

They were remanded in custody and face lengthy jail terms when they return to the dock next month.

Mulheron was the Scottish link to the predominantly London-based gang.

The smash and grab was planned for the designer Mappin and Webb store in upmarket St Andrews.

Peter Attwood together with his son Louie initially joined Mulheron and McGinley to travel to the Fife town in late February last year.

Mulheron had apparently been down south visiting relatives and returned north with the others despite claiming not to know them.

The High Court in Glasgow heard, however, that police were already tracking the gang. Louie Attwood and McGinley were clocked walking around the plush Old Course hotel.

Prosecutors believe the pair were carrying out “reconnaissance” by recording footage on mobile phones of the jewellers.

But, before leaving, Attwood snapped up a £65 jumper at the hotel – apparently for his grandfather.

They later returned south, but the gang – minus Louie Attwood – were back in Scotland just over a week later.

They used the home of Mulheron’s brother in Glasgow’s Govan to finalise their robbery bid.

Before that, Peter Attwood hired a BMW in London while his son bought sledgehammers holdalls, motorcycle helmets, jackets and waterproof trousers.

The jury heard two Piaggio scooters were ferried north having earlier been stolen in London.

They were chosen for being “nippy” and “agile” to get away from a crime scene quickly.

The court was told that on March 3, McGinley bought a knife and cleaver from the then Crocketts hardware store in Glasgow. Mulheron purchased a roll of tape.

Four of the gang were clocked travelling in the BMW. Hogwood and a black male – believed to be Aluko – were thought to be in a Transit van.

The gang later arrived in St Andrews primed to pounce on the jewellers.

But, armed police instead swooped stopping the gang in their tracks. All six were near the hotel.

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.”

After the verdicts, the court was told the gang have racked up a lengthy list of convictions between them.

This included Hogwood and Peter Attwood each guilty of robbery in the past.

Judge John Morris QC deferred sentencing for reports.

Mappin and Webb – who acts as silversmith to the Queen and Prince Charles – was once a regular target of smash and grab raiders.

A motorbike gang robbed a branch in Old Bond Street, London in 2010.

Another of the firm’s stores in the city was targeted three times in 2008 – including one where a car was driven through the front doors.

Speaking at the conclusion of today’s trial, Detective Inspector Stevie Sandilands from Police Scotland’s Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit in Glasgow said: “Thanks to vital information that was provided to Police Scotland by our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police we were able to carry out extensive surveillance activity on this crime group and track their movements on the day they intended to carry out the robbery in St Andrews.

“I would like to thank the Met for their proactive and swift assistance, which ultimately helped us stop a potentially violent and dangerous incident taking place.

“At this time I’d also like to praise the local community of St Andrews who were incredibly helpful with providing witness statements and supporting information as part of our investigation.

“Utilising a number of local and specialist Police Scotland resources, we were able to effectively monitor and then disrupt the activities of these men before they could successfully target the premises they had been intent on robbing.

“These convictions demonstrate the commitment of police forces across the UK to work together and tackle serious and organised crime in all its forms and I would urge anyone with information relating to criminal activity of this nature in their area to contact us on 101 or make an anonymous report to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

Detective Inspector Nick Blackburn from the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “This case demonstrates the success of strong joint working between the Met’s Flying Squad and our colleagues in Police Scotland.

“By working together across force borders, a network of dangerous individuals have been brought to justice before they could carry out this audacious crime.”