A man who fled to Jamaica after being arrested in connection with an incident which saw a lone woman choked and robbed of £20,000 of jewellery has been jailed for more than six years.
Dean James, aged 37, of no fixed abode was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of robbery and sentenced to six years and four months.
While the jewellery was not recovered, James was also ordered to pay £1,775 in compensation to the victim.
On 7 March 2016, the female victim was followed to an address in Highlever Road, W10 by two men. As she approached the front door to the property, she heard a noise and turned to see the two standing at either side of the gate.
One of the men shouted ‘go’ and the pair ran up the garden path towards her. Both grabbed her by the arms and shoulders to prevent her from running away, before one of them grabbed her by the throat pushing her to the floor. Putting his arms across her eyes and mouth he told her “If you don’t stop screaming I’m going to kill you”. At the same time, the second man pulled the wedding and engagement rings from her finger. The pair then attempted to steal her handbag, but were unable to prise it from her grip so fled from the scene.
An investigation by officers from the Westminster Crime Squad swiftly identified James as a possible suspect and he was arrested on 21 April 2016. Following interview he was bailed while further inquiries were carried out. Examination of CCTV footage established that clothing seized from his address was linked to the offence.
Crucially, the victim was able to positively identify him as one of the robbers during an ID parade.
James failed to return on bail in June 2016 and inquiries established that he had fled the country shortly after he was released on bail, travelling to Jamaica on a one-way ticket in May.
Officers liaised with the Crown Prosecution Service and a charge of robbery was authorised. In July 2016 an arrest warrant for James was issued at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
On Thursday, 15 June, he was arrested by the Jamaican Fugitive Apprehension Team (JFAT) in the rural town of Chocolate Hole, St Elizabeth, Jamaica.
A month later, Crime Squad officers flew to Kingston, Jamaica to arrange James’ removal and on Thursday, 13 July he returned to the UK and was charged with robbery.
PC Niall Seymour, Westminster Crime Squad, said: “James clearly thought he had escaped justice by fleeing the country but today’s result show the lengths we will go to to bring perpetrators to justice for serious crimes such as these. In this case the victim was left extremely traumatised by what was a very frightening experience. I hope she can take some solace in this result.”
The second suspect remains outstanding.