Three men have been jailed for a combined total of 39 years as the result of an investigation led by a new detective team in the Met’s Trident and Area Crime Command.
The Trident Active Series Linked Team was set up in January 2017 with the intention of investigating firearm offences across London in which forensic analysis has identified the same weapon was used and remained in circulation.
In an investigation known as Operation Esyia, the team looked into a linked series of four firearm offences which took place in Lambeth and Wandsworth between 14 August and 3 September 2016.
Despite the fact that the firearm, believed to be a self-loading pistol, has never been recovered, examination of ammunition recovered at the scene enabled the four offences to be linked.
As individual investigations, each of the four offences had offered police only limited lines of enquiry, with no significant forensic, CCTV or witness evidence available.
However, the Active Linked Series Team investigated the series as whole after the Met’s firearm forensic scientists identified the offences were linked by the same gun. The team then began searching for other connections between the incidents and seeking out evidence that identified those responsible.
The investigation was carried out during a one-year period and resulted in the arrest and convictions of Richard Ojo, Myron Hyllam and Mamud Mansaray.
The first offence, which was initially treated as an attempted murder, took place in Yelverton Road in Wandsworth, shortly after 23:00hrs on 14 August 2016.
Whilst sitting in his car, the victim was approached, threatened with the handgun and then robbed of a Rolex watch and two gold chains. He then tried to run away but was shot in the leg.
Detectives subsequently recovered the Rolex watch during a search of Ojo’s home address on 10 March 2017.
The two gold chains stolen from the victim were recovered from Mansaray’s vehicle when it was searched on 22 March 2017, after his arrest.
A vehicle imagery specialist, who viewed the CCTV footage of the incident, concluded that the vehicles used by the offenders were most likely to be a Mitsubishi Outlander and a Ford Mondeo.
The same expert concluded that marks and damage found on a Mondeo linked to Mansaray were consistent with those seen on the Mondeo captured on the CCTV.
Hyllam, Mansaray and Ojo were stopped by police in a silver Mitsubishi Outlander a few days before the shooting in Yelverton Road. Mansaray was also linked to a Mondeo.
Analysis of their mobile phone records also linked the three men to the offence.
The same handgun was then discharged in Robertson Street in Wandsworth on 17 August 2016.
Police had been called out shortly before 03:00hrs after reports of shots fired.
When officers arrived, there was no trace of any victims or suspects but CCTV footage of the incident captured three cars in convoy at the scene. Two figures are seen to get out of one car before running towards Robertson Street. They return shortly afterwards and leave in the same car.
The CCTV evidence, together with forensic analysis of ammunition at the scene and analysis of mobile phone records, implicated Ojo and Hyllam as being involved in this offence.
Another shooting, which was forensically linked to the same weapon, took place in the Springhill estate in Lambeth shortly after 21:00hrs on 22 August 2016.
Two witnesses were driving and about to turn into the estate off Larkhall Rise when they saw a man fire three shots. The police investigation was never able to determine whether or not the shots had been directed towards a person.
Forensic evidence showed that the same firearm had been used. No evidence, however, was found to link Ojo, Mansaray or Hyllam to this offence.
The last incident in the series was a shooting on 3 September 2016, outside Leys Court on Brixton Road in Lambeth. On this occasion, CCTV evidence indicated the shots may have been fired towards someone who was seen to run away, but no victim was ever forthcoming or identified.
Ojo and Hyllam were both found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to rob in October 2017 after an eight-week trial at Woolwich Crown Court.
Richard Ojo 25 (15.05.92) of Stockwell Park Road, Lambeth, was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment
Myron Hyllam 27 (16.05.90) of Challice Way, Brixton, was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment.
At Woolwich Crown Court on 15 January, Mamud Mansaray 26 (27.10.91) of Mace Street, Tower Hamlets, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and was sentenced the same day to five years’ and 10 months imprisonment. He was found not guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Detective Inspector Edward Facer, of the Met’s Trident and Area Crime Command, said: “The arrests and convictions of these men are the result of a year-long investigation that involved in-depth analysis of the four incidents, phone records, CCTV and forensic examination of ammunition found at the four scenes of crime.
“This investigation demonstrates how we are able to prosecute those responsible for firearms offences, even if there are no witnesses to a shooting.
“The lengthy sentences handed to these defendants should send out a message that gun crime will not be tolerated and we will relentlessly pursue anyone involved in firearms offences.”
Detective Superintendent Mike Balcombe, of the Met’s Trident and Area Crime Command, said: “The Active Series Linked Team was set up with the intention of prosecuting those responsible for multiple firearms offences. Through outstanding police work and expert forensic analysis, three men responsible for a series of firearms offences have been taken off the streets of London.”
The reality TV show Celebrity Big Brother and its civilian original show will reportedly be axed later this year.
According to The Daily Star, Channel 5 are planning to ‘pull the plug’ on the show after dwindling ratings, with a lack of interest meaning the programme is ‘consigned to the dustbin for good’.
It would mean this year’s 21st series of Celebrity Big Brother would be the last one, with a summer civilian edition of the show planned for the summer.
Big Brother originally began on Channel 4 as a social experiment – quickly becoming a national phenomenon which paved the way for reality shows in the following years. The show has been criticised however in recent years since its move to Channel 5 for deviating from its original premise, and instead serving as a launchpad for celebrities and fame-hungry civilians.
The Nigerian businessman, along with twelve other defendants, was convicted of conspiracy to launder money in an international fraud and money laundering investigation.
Walter Wagbatsoma was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months imprisonment for his part in the crime, following a trial at Leicester Crown Court
This investigation was conducted by Lincolnshire Police Economic Crime Unit under Operation Tarlac, in which over £12m was defrauded from public bodies including hospital trusts, housing associations and councils around the UK.
Nigerian born Wagbatsoma, 47, was originally detained on a European Arrest Warrant in June 2016 whilst travelling through Germany. He was extradited soon afterwards and charged with conspiring with others to launder the proceeds of fraud through his business interests in the UK.
He was also disqualified from being a company director for 6 years.
Wagbatsoma and his co defendants fraudulently obtained funds in the UK that were laundered through an account in Dubai under the control of a co-conspirator Oluwatoyin Allison, a UK national who was convicted in his absence at an earlier trial in April 2017 and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.
The funds were then transferred to Wagbatsoma’s account in the UK.
Wagbatsoma, an oil and gas businessman, was on trial in Nigeria at the time of his arrest for his part in a £1.9 billion oil subsidy fraud for which he was convicted and sentenced in his absence to 10-years imprisonment in January last year.
This is the third criminal trial for this operation and follows the successful conviction of 12 other defendants in the investigation which began with a complaint of fraud from Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust in September 2011, in which £1.28m was fraudulently obtained by the gang. Subsequently, a further 20 linked offences was identified resulting in losses of £12.6m.
After a four-year investigation, those convicted have received prison sentences in excess of 50-years and proceedings are underway to recover the gains of the conspiracy under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is to make sure that victims can in some way be recompensed for what the Judge described as a “sophisticated and widespread fraud in its conception and execution.”
Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor said: “For a small force, this investigation shows that officers in our Economic Crime department have shown real endeavour and determination in investigating what is a huge money laundering and fraud offence.
“Operation Tarlac has now seen thirteen individuals given lengthy prison sentences for their part in an international offence, which has had a national impact on public bodies in the UK. As a force, we have achieved a significant impact against organised crime in this investigation and this shows the hard work by our officers.
“Proceedings are now underway to recover a large amount of money, and I want to personally thank partners for their support and co-operation with us in this investigation and congratulate my officers and staff on a job well done.”
Dame Helen Mirren and Liam Neeson have revealed they were in a five-year relationship during the 1980s.
The pair also revealed just how taken they were with one another during the relationship that many film fans are seemingly unaware of.
Mirren, who is seven years older than Neeson, first fell for the actor from Ballymena while on the set of the film Excalibur, a retelling of the legend of King Arthur and the knights of the round table.
The pair were reunited last night as guests of Graham Norton on his BBC chat show, and both said that the relationship had been serious and that they had lived together in London.
Neeson, now 65, revealed that he fell for Mirren almost instantly when he saw her in costume for the part of Morgana, a sorceress, on the Excalibur set in 1980.
“I was smitten. Very Smitten” said the actor.
The hunky actor who has also dated leading ladies such Julia Roberts, Freya St. Johnston, and Brooke Shields was married to actress Natasha Richardson, daughter of actress Vanessa Redgrave and director/producer Tony Richardson, for 15 years.
Richardson died due to a severe head injury in a skiing accident. They had two sons together.
The Oscar winning actress Dame Helen is married to director Taylor Hackford. The pair have been together since 1986 and married since 1997.