“These two men embarked on a crime spree of shocking proportions"
Above: Maher and Manley
Two men from Battersea have pleaded guilty to a series of knifepoint robberies committed throughout central London over the past nine months.
Sean Maher, 26, of no fixed abode and Jay Jay Manley, 26, of Battersea, both pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court last Wednesday (15 August) to having carried out numerous knife point robberies throughout central and south London.
Maher also pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods, dangerous driving and escape from lawful custody.
They will be sentenced at the same court on 28 September.
In 2011, Maher, originally from Battersea, was sentenced to 12-years imprisonment for a previous conviction. Six years into his sentence, in October 2017, he escaped from his prison cell at a category D prison and was on the run from police.
On 3 May this year a 29-year old man was walking his dog along Franklins Row, Chelsea, when he was approached by two suspects. The first threatened him with a knife, which was prodded into the victim’s stomach. The second suspect took the man’s watch before they both made off from the scene.
A week later (10 May) a lone female, aged 45, had parked her car on Sandilands Road, SW6, when she was approached by two men who forced her up against a fence, held a knife close to her and demanded her watch. After she handed it over, they got into a stolen Nissan Qashqai on false plates and drove off.
On 14 May in Britten Street, SW3, two male victims were approached by three men. The victims were forcibly separated from each other, threatened with knives and punched. Their property stolen, including expensive watches and jewellery. The suspects made off in the same stolen Nissan Qashqai.
Two days later Maher and Manley followed a 26 year-old ma, back from a restaurant where he had been having dinner in Chelsea. Outside his property on Anderson Street the two men threatened the victim using the same method as before, threatening him with a knife. Once again they stole the victim’s watch.
On 21 June at around 3.30pm, a lone female, aged 47 was walking in Manresa Road in Chelsea when a stolen Land Rover on false plates screeched up beside her. Again, two males got out and violently robbed the woman of her expensive watch.
Westminster Crime Squad were assigned to investigate on the same day as the Manresa Road robbery and Maher and Manley were established as prime suspects.
On Friday 29 June this year officers from the Crime Squad were about to enter an address in Seely Road in Wandsworth when Maher jumped into a car and made off at speed along a pavement before re-joining the road.
Police followed until Maher came up against a refuse truck blocking the road. He mounted the pavement and drove at the bin men, crashing through their bins – all to get around the blocked road.
No one was injured and the following officers stopped the pursuit due to obvious dangers.
On Monday 2 July and after further investigation, the officers forced entry to a flat in Macey House in Battersea. There they found Maher hiding in a cupboard.
The flat was searched after Maher’s arrest and evidence linking him to some of the robberies were found.
Maher was taken to a central London police station where he was interviewed by detectives.
Investigation into the robberies continued and on Tuesday 17 July, the second suspect, Manley, was arrested and charged with three of the robberies (Franklins Row, SW3, Britten Street SW3 and Sandilands Road SW6). He was also charged with three offences of possession of offensive weapons.
He was remanded into custody and appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on 18 July where he was remanded into custody until 15 August. Whilst in custody, he was further charged with the robberies in Anderson Street and Manresa Road.
Detective Constable Tony Holley, the investigating officer from Westminster Crime Squad, said, “These two men embarked on a crime spree of shocking proportions. They identified and targeted victims who were all vulnerable and preyed further on their vulnerability, using knives to cause even more fear, just so they could steal what was not theirs to take.
“I was present when Sean Maher drove off from police on 29 June and in my time as a police officer, I do not think I have seen much more dangerous behaviour than his that day. At 7am, whilst members of the public including children on their way to school, using the very pavements he drove along to evade capture; anyone unlucky enough to have been in his way would have been simply mown down.
“The sheer level of dangerousness to the public that these men posed cannot be underestimated and it was fortunate that all the victims succumbed to their demands as I shudder to think what lengths they would have gone to in order to achieve their aim. In Maher’s case, it is only aggravated by the fact that he should have still been in prison at the time for previous violent offending and further aggravated by the fact that they were using stolen, disguised, uninsured and unlicensed vehicles to facilitate their getting around.
“I have spoken to the victims in this case and they suffered varying levels of trauma from these robberies – one of the male victims was visibly shaking when he viewed a picture of Maher three months after the robbery.
“The investigation into these offences, including the manhunt for Maher, was challenging and complex. It is incredibly satisfying to have taken these men off the streets and protected the public from them and above all, most satisfying to be able to provide some closure and relief to the victims so that they can get on with putting this all behind them as best they can.”
August 20, 2018