‘I imagine they’re gutted they got caught’: Police respond as gang members jailed for 104 years

DCI Jane Topping with the haul of weapons. Picture: JON KING

DCI Jane Topping with the haul of weapons. Picture: JON KING - Credit: Archant

A top cop has reassured the public about safety after four gang members who pointed a sawn off shutgun at officers during a police chase were jailed.

Det Chief Insp Jane Topping was speaking after the four men were sent to prison for 26 years each after the high speed pursuit came to an end in Bective Road, Forest Gate, in July last year.

DCI Topping, seated beside a haul of zombie knives, an axe and the gun found in the gang’s car, said: “This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated in our streets. London is a safe city. The officers involved must have been scared but they did a fantastic job.

“This was a rare and highly unusual incident. It is unusual to get this array of weapons.

She added that the trained police marksmen returned fire in the genuine belief that they had been shot at.

“The officers were completely justified in their actions,” she said.

The gang was on a “ride out” to target rivals in Leytonstone drove through residential streets at speeds of up to 60mph after police spotted them.

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During the pursuit 21-year-old Lekan Akinsoji from Dagenham donned a clown mask and waved the gun out of the window.

The chase came to an end when the stolen BMW the gang were in was blocked by an oncoming vehicle.

The driver fled and is still at large but the four accomplices were arrested at the scene.

Holding up the mask, DCI Topping said: “If anyone saw this coming towards them they would be terrified. It’s the kind of thing you would see in The Walking Dead.”

Akinsoji and his accomplices Nathaniel Lewis, 23, of Earlham Grove, Forest Gate, Darnell Joseph-Newill, 21, of Willis Road, Plaistow and Troy Ifill, 22, of Torrens Square, Maryland, were found guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and conspiracy to commit GBH in February.

DCI Topping, welcoming the sentencing, said: “The judge has recognised the severity of the offence and the fact that firearms were pointed at officers and also that the males involved went out to commit serious violence.”

But she admitted detectives had been unable to find out what made the gang, who dubbed themselves “Northside Newham’, to amass so many weapons.

Asked if they had shown any remorse, DCI Topping said: “I imagine they’re gutted they got caught.”