Ipswich/Bury St Edmunds/London: Armed robbers were part of notorious Fagin’s Kitchen gang

EIGHT men sentenced to a total of 65 years in jail after armed robberies in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds were part of a notorious gang dubbed Fagin’s Kitchen, it emerged today.

The gang made up of dozens of young men have gained notoriety for their daring raids in the ruthless pursuit of goods worth millions.

Riding their trademark Aprilia scooters or motorbikes they roar up to high-class jewellery stores with their faces covered by crash helmets and balaclavas, and steam into the shops creating shock and awe.

Said to number anywhere between 30 and 50-strong in the early days, they have been creating havoc since 2005.

The term Fagin’s Kitchen derives from the Oliver Twist character who sent out orphans to pick the pockets of the wealthy in the Victorian era.

It also reflects the guiding hand of a more organised and sophisticated criminal, or criminals, who control these modern-day street urchins, many of whom come from difficult backgrounds.

In the past it was believed the gangs were controlled by the guiding hand of a career criminal.

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On many occasions members of the public have fought back, as they did when the raids on Thurlow Champness and Goldsmiths occurred last year.

The most famous example was when handbag-heroine Ann Timson confronted armed robbers when they targeted a jeweller’s in Northampton.

The 71-year-old grandmother became famous when she gave the raiders a ‘handbagging’ as they fled empty-handed in February last year.

Yesterday at Ipswich Crown Court Dwayne Marsh, 34; Charlie Kavanagh, 21; and Jed Macdonald, 22, all from London were all jailed for six years each for the raid on Thurlow Champness jewellers in Bury St Edmunds in February 2011.

George Paget, 20 and Dean Armstrong, 21, who were involved in the robbery and another at Goldsmith’s jewellers in Tavern Street, Ipswich, last June, were each sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

All the men, who are from the Islington area of London, were guilty of conspiracy to rob.

Earlier this year Benjamin Murphy, 26, of Loughton; Danny O’Bryan, 22, of Bulpin near Thurrock; and Charles Onyemelukwe, 24, of Camden, were jailed for 11 years, nine years and nine years respectively for the Goldsmith’s raid.

Armstrong revels in his street name of ‘Puff Daddy’, but he is no criminal mastermind.

The chubby 21-year-old’s Mini, which was used in the Ipswich robbery, broke down in Clacton as he made his getaway. Armstrong rang a recovery driver giving his real name as he attempted to return to London.

In December 2009 at Southwark Crown Court he received a nine-month jail sentence suspended for two years, as one of eight members of a smash-and-grab gang who carried out a string of raids on top West End stores.

The gang staged up to 20 raids on designer shops and jewellers over 12 months.

Co-conspirator Kavanagh was given 40 months’ detention in a young offenders institute.

In June last year Kavanagh appeared at the Old Bailey with Jed MacDonald, after a �250,000 raid on Watches of Switzerland in the City of London.

MacDonald was jailed for four years and three months, while Kavanagh was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

Last August Murphy was sentenced to seven years in jail at Southwark Crown Court following his conviction for a �50,000 raid at Watches of Switzerland in London’s Oxford Street.