Four men have been found guilty of robbing a salesman of millions of pounds worth of jewellery in a car park in Staines-upon-Thames last year.
Lee Jason Gardner, 48, from Tottenham, Camilo Carvajal, 39, from Lewisham, Ciro Troyano, 40, from Elephant and Castle, and Oscar Hicks, 37, from Southwark, were brought to justice following a lengthy and complex investigation which involved piecing together hours of CCTV and ANPR footage to show the meticulous planning which went into the robbery.
All four men were convicted of conspiracy to rob following a trial at Kingston Crown Court. Gardner was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment, while Carvajal received 17 years behind bars. Troyano was imprisoned for 16 years, while Hicks was jailed for 14 years.
Describing the sustained and violent attack, the victim, a salesman for American celebrity jeweller Le Vian, told the court how the physical and psychological effects he had suffered would “remain with him throughout the rest of his life”.
He said: “I was left black and blue all over from the amount of punches and kicks I received. There was no need for these men to have injured me the way they did. I would have handed over what they were demanding without the need for violence.
“I also lost most of my possessions, including my clothes, phone, wallet, ID and passport, and was left stranded in a foreign country with nothing. Now I feel really vulnerable when I travel to the UK.
“I hope those involved reflect on what they have done and turn their lives around in the future. I would also like to thank Surrey Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for the fantastic support I received at such a traumatic time.”
During the trial, the court heard how the gang set upon the jewellery salesman after he had parked his car on the first level of the Elmsleigh Centre car park in Staines-upon-Thames around 8.20am on 13 May 2019.
He was opening the boot of his car to take out the suitcase containing the jewellery when he was struck with such force to his face that he fell to the ground, before being repeatedly punched and kicked to the head and body. During the attack, the victim’s watch was ripped off, fracturing his wrist and lower arm in the process.
The victim managed to get to his feet and run for help. When he returned to his car, the suitcase containing all the jewellery had gone.
An investigation was launched, which uncovered footage from the car park’s automatic number plate readers which captured the gang’s car, a black Mercedes C Class, breaking through the exit barrier at speed at 8.25am shortly after the robbery. The number plates had been stolen earlier that week from a Mercedes in Lambeth.
Using CCTV from the town centre and statements given by witnesses, investigating officers were able to piece together the car’s journey in and out of Staines, as well as the four men seen going to and from the car, in the two days prior to the robbery. They also established that the Mercedes was previously registered to the partner of Camilo Carvajal.
A blue Ford Fiesta which had been seen travelling in convoy with the Mercedes was registered to Lee Gardner.
Officers also found out that Ciro Troyano had travelled to Maidenhead on 12 May 2019, the day before the robbery, where the victim was displaying the Le Vian range at the Ernest Jones store at the Nicholson Shopping Centre. CCTV from the store and the shopping centre captured Troyano leaving and entering the shop and looking at a watch display.
CCTV and ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) footage was also used to show that Gardner had travelled to Staines-upon-Thames on the same day to carry out a reconnaissance visit of the car park where the robbery took place.
Troyano was arrested at an address in London on 17 June 2019 and a search uncovered a phone, which was later confirmed as being the same one used during the offence. Enquiries with local pawnbrokers also confirmed he had been trying to sell items of jewellery following the robbery, including two distinctive Le Vian rings.
Gardner and Carvajal were arrested after simultaneous warrants were carried out at their home addresses on 25 June. Following a search of Gardner’s home, officers found a large quantity of Le Vian jewellery, cash and mobile phones. Photographs of the jewellery in the days immediately after the offence were found on the phones, as well as multiple WhatsApp messages he had sent to try to sell it on.
A search of Carvajal’s address uncovered a distinctive Omega pen and pair of Omega sunglasses which belonged to the victim.
Hicks was arrested on 30 July 2019 at an address in London after officers found medication with the victim’s name on it in a bedroom drawer.
Detective Sergeant Kate Hyder, who investigated the case, said: “This was a brutal and deliberately targeted attack, reflected in the lengthy sentences handed out to all four men today, who all played their part in pulling off this professionally planned robbery.
“Unfortunately, the violence they inflicted on the victim left him extremely traumatised and has had a massive impact on his life. I hope that the fact that these men are now behind bars will provide him with some form of closure and help him move on with his life.”
DS Hyder continued: “I would like to thank my team for their dedication and hard work throughout this lengthy and painstaking investigation. This included reviewing and piecing together hours of CCTV and ANPR footage to track the men’s movements before, during and after the robbery. The investigation also involved downloading a large quantity of mobile phone data which proved the link between the four men, as well as their involvement in the robbery.”