Moped gang who stole motorbikes and robbed pedestrians at knifepoint jailed

Hisham Tawfik can be seen swinging a hammer during the theft of a motorbike

Hisham Tawfik can be seen swinging a hammer during the theft of a motorbike

Friday, March 9, 2018

Three males responsible for a series of motorcycle thefts and moped-enabled robberies in central London have been sentenced to a total of over 20 years' imprisonment.

Thomas McDermott, 24, Hisham Tawfik, 20 and George Fitzgerald, 17, were all sentenced at Southwark Crown Court, having pled guilty at earlier hearings.

Tawfik and McDermott, both of Queen's Park, were jailed for three and twelve-and-a-half years respectively. Fitzgerald, of Dagenham, will serve five years.

The court heard that officers from the Westminster Crime Squad launched two investigations, one focusing on a spate of motorbike thefts and another concentrating on moped-enabled robberies within central London between December 2016 and June 2017.

Enquiries identified two males, McDermott and Tawfik, who were suspected of the organised theft of motorcycles for use in crime, as well as moped-enabled robberies.

The pair would scout motorcycle bays and other locations where high-value machines were parked.

They would then change into motor cycle gear with face coverings before Tawfkik would drive McDermott on a high-powered vehicle of their own to one of the machines. One of the pair would break the steerling lock and steer the stolen bike as the other pushed from behind on the other vehicle to take it away.

On December 6, 2016, one brazen attempt by McDermott and Tawfik in Soho Square, W10, resulted in the pair threatening members of the public who tried to stop them from stealing a bike with knives and angle grinders.

Enquiries in the moped-enabled robbery investigation led police to McDermott and Fitzgerald.

On June 22 2017, in St Johns Wood Park, NW8, McDermott and Fitzgerald were riding a single stolen motorcycle and attacked a 35-year-old male, stealing his Rolex watch at knifepoint before making off.

On June 26, 2017, in Royal Avenue, SW3, a 45-year-old female victim was walking towards Kings Road when she was attacked by McDermott while Fitzgerald waited on a getaway stolen moped. McDermott knocked the victim to the ground and stole an expensive watch, again under knifepoint. Both made off when members of the public ran to the victims' assistance.

Tawfik was arrested on March 10, 2017 after enquiries led officers to an address in Alfred Road, W2.

Fitzgerald was arrested on June 26, 2017 at an address in Herries Street, W10, where he was found in possession of a bag containing clothing worn by himself and McDermott during the robberies.

McDermott was arrested on July 26, 2017 at an address in Kilburn Late, W10.

Tawfik and McDermott pleaded guilty in September 2017 to nine counts of theft/attempted theft of motorcycles.

Fitzgerald pleaded guilty in October 2017 to conspiracy to rob. McDermott, who was on remand for his involvement in the other offences, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob on 22 January 2018.

DC Russell Farmer, of Westminster Crime Squad, led the investigation into the robberies. He said: "We hope today's sentencing serves as some deterrent to those intent on committing moped-enabled offences that the Met will find them and bring them to justice."

DC Vic Barkes, also of the Westminster Crime Squad, led the investigation into the motorbike thefts. He said: "We're pleased to have put these three behind bars for their brazen crimes. I'm convinced that Londoners will be all the safer for it."