Four jailed in London for record jewellery heist

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Four British men were jailed on Friday for between 23 and 16 years for their part in a record 40 million pound (48 million euro) robbery from an exclusive London jewellery store.

Aman Kassaye, 25, mastermind of the 2009 raid on the Graff jewellers in London's West End, was sentenced to a total of 23 years in jail for conspiracy to rob, threatening and detaining a shop assistant, and for firearms offences.

His three co-conspirators, Solomun Beyene, Clinton Mogg, and Thomas Thomas, all of London, were each jailed for 16 years.

Petra Ehnar, a shop assistant in the Graff Jewellers store, had been threatened with a gun and forced to fill a bag with 43 pieces of jewellery including earrings, necklaces and watches.

One diamond necklace alone was valued at 3.5 million pounds.

Ehnar was then forced into the street by the robbers as they made their getaway. Footage was shown to the jury of Kassaye firing a shot in the street outside the store, sending them running for cover.

The court heard that the raiders used professional make-up in an attempt to disguise themselves during the raid.

Judge Jeffrey Pedgen condemned the violence of the robbers, saying: "The staff were victim of a terrifying ordeal at gunpoint."

The stolen gems have yet to be recovered.

© 2010 AFP

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