Three men have been jailed for a series of linked knifepoint robberies in south London after forensic evidence linked them to the crime scenes.
Sean Tuso 21 (06.08.99) of Belmont Road, Wallington, Surrey was sentenced to six years in prison for conspiracy to rob. This comes after he was found guilty following a two week trial at Croydon Crown Court that concluded on 4 December 2020.
Joshua Norris 22 (11.12.99) of Colliers Water Lane, Thornton Heath was sentenced to four years and four months in prison for robbery and for handling stolen goods. This follows a guilty plea entered at Croydon Crown on 25 September 2020.
Joseph Hamilton-Peart 20 (19.05.00) of Craignish Avenue SW16 was sentenced to three years in prison for attempted robbery. He entered a guilty plea at Croydon Crown Court on 25 September 2020.
All three were sentenced on Wednesday, 16 June, at Croydon Crown Court.
The trio were part of a gang which carried out a series of knifepoint commercial robberies in Sutton, Croydon and Lambeth between 23 October and 25 November 2019.
This investigation was led by officers from Operation Venice.
In each of the robberies, the suspects arrived at the venues on mopeds, wearing crash helmets and dark clothing.
They entered the convenience stores armed with Rambo knives and hammers which were used to threaten store owners and shoppers. They then stole cash from the tills, cigarettes and bottles of alcohol.
Although CCTV was obtained from each venue, the suspects’ faces were covered and therefore officers had to rely on forensic evidence.
During the first offence, a hammer was left behind by one of the suspects and a forensic examination revealed a partial DNA match to Joshua Norris.
Sean Tuso was arrested on 31 December 2019 by officers from the Venice Investigation Team. Tuso was found to have a stolen Honda moped in his rear garden, which had a padlock on the rear wheel. He had the padlock key in his possession when arrested. He was later charged and remanded into custody.
Officers examined CCTV from the hostel where Tuso resided and identified Joshua Norris, who was wearing the same clothing from one of the robberies.
Norris was arrested at his home address in Thornton Heath on 17 January 2020,where he was found to have a crash helmet in his room, the same as one worn by one of the suspects in CCTV from some of the robberies.
Found outside his address was a stolen motorcycle false plates which had been stolen in a burglary in the Merton area between 8 and 9 September 2019. Norris had a key in his room which fitted a silver padlock on the front wheel to this bike.
The third suspect, Joseph Hamilton-Peart, was identified as being an associate of both Tuso and Norris.
Forensic phone evidence from Tuso’s phone showed videos of the suspects posing with the clothing and knives used in the robberies. A fingerprint belonging to Hamilton-Peart was also found on a Rambo knife located at the scene of an attempted robbery.
Hamilton-Peart was circulated as wanted and after a manhunt he was arrested and charged 1 April 2020.
A total of £24,000 worth of cash, alcohol and cigarettes was stolen during the spree.
Police Constable Tadas Balnys, from Operation Venice, said: “These men terrorised shops in south London over a four week period, visiting mainly at night and threatening staff with knives and using violence to steal cash, alcohol and cigarettes.
“Their spree was stopped thanks to the meticulous investigation by Venice officers which required diligent forensic work. The fingerprint, phone and DNA evidence in this investigation was vital in identifying each of the criminals. It highlights the proactive work we do every day to ensure serious offenders are identified and brought to justice.
“I hope that the verdict and sentencing helps to reassure the community that the Metropolitan Police are there to keep London safe. We are committed to tackling violent crime and have no tolerance for criminals who commit senseless acts of violence.”