Pair jailed after violent spate of robberies

A violent criminal who carried out six knife-point robberies in just 15 days in east London was jailed for life on Friday.

Knife-wielding heroin addict Ian Edwards, 45, was convicted at the Old Bailey for robbery and conspiracy to rob after the crime spree in Havering. He had pleaded not guilty to the eight charges.

Edwards’ accomplice, look-out and get-away driver Kenneth Westfield, 37, of Lower Mardyke Avenue, just past the Dagenham border, stood trial after denying his part but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit armed robbery and robbery. He was jailed for six years.

The Flying Squad arrested Westfield on May 8 and Edwards two days later in Dagenham Heathway.

During one of the robberies, at the Gayatri newsagent, in The Broadway, Rainham, the frail shopkeeper – a widow in her 70s - was threatened with a large kitchen knife and violently dragged across the floor before Edwards made off with around �400 in cash.

The woman is now so traumatised she seldom leaves her home.

On another occasion Edwards held up a busy Tesco in Rainham which was packed with customers and staff.

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Investigating officer DC Fareed Mirza, from The Flying Squad, said: “Edwards and Westfield were engaged in a spate of violent robberies that impacted on local businesses and instilled a real sense of fear amongst members of the local community.

“Edwards is a violent career criminal. He showed no remorse and disregarded the impact his actions would have on the lives of his victims and their businesses.”

DCI Ian Corner added: “This is an excellent example of work carried out by the Flying Squad in partnership with local borough officers, where linked cross-border knife robberies at commercial premises were investigated.”

Edwards, of no fixed abode, was told by judges that he must serve a minimum of eight years.