Man found guilty over £40m jewellery heist
A man has been found guilty of taking part in Britain's biggest jewellery robbery – the £40m (€48.5m) Graff Diamonds heist.
Aman Kassaye, 24, was found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court on Friday of involvement in last year's armed raid at Graff Diamonds store in Mayfair, central London.
Kassaye forced a young shop assistant to help steal gems worth £40m (€48.5m) at gunpoint in the heist.
He was convicted of kidnap, conspiracy to rob and possessing a firearm. He was acquitted of a further gun possession charge.
Kassaye wore a make-up disguise to pass security and pose as a genuine customer at the exclusive Mayfair store.
He produced a handgun and forced staff to the floor, including manager Martin Leggatt who was made to lie spread-eagled.
Kassaye then ordered terrified shop assistant Petra Ehnar to help empty rings, necklaces, watches and earrings from display cases.
In just two minutes on August 6 last year, he took 43 pieces of jewellery, including a £3.5m (€4.2m) multi-coloured diamond necklace, worth a total of £40m (€48.5m).
None of the jewellery has ever been recovered.
The incident was captured on the shop's CCTV system and the dramatic footage was played to the jury.
In chaotic scenes caught on camera by a member of the public filming on his mobile phone, Kassaye shot at a Graff security guard who tried to intervene.
He then fled in a series of cars, while the gems were handed to a motorbike rider.
The jury was still deliberating on six co-defendants.
They deny conspiracy to rob the store between August 3 and August 7, 2009.
Craig Calderwood, 27, of no fixed address, denies possessing a handgun and sawn-off shotgun.
Solomon Beyene, 25, of Lilestone Street, Marylebone, north-west London, is accused of buying so-called dirty telephones and hiring a Transit van used as one of the blocking vehicles.
Courtney Lawrence, 31, of Ladbroke Grove, west London, is accused of being involved in the purchase of further mobile phones.
David Joseph, 23, of Flaxman Road, Loughborough Junction, south-east London, allegedly used one of the blocking vehicles and his fingerprints were found on the false number plate used on the rear of the BMW getaway car.
Clinton Mogg, 43, of Westby Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, is accused of providing the London address used by an innocent make-up artist to make Kassaye and Calderwood look older than they were.
And Thomas Thomas, 45, of Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, is accused of hiring further blocking vehicles used by the gang. The trial continues.