A travelling jewellery salesman working for American designer Le Vian was robbed of £4.1million worth of gems after retailer Ernest Jones advertised his location online, a court has heard.
The gang stalked jewellery salesman Joseph Savoie before violently attacking him at the Elmsleigh Shopping Centre car park in Staines, Surrey, for his suitcase containing ‘chocolate diamond’ items.
The gang planned their heist after British high-street retailer Ernest Jones put on their website the location of the unusual jewels, to drum up business at shops around the country.
Lee Gardner, 48, Camilo Carvajal, 39, Ciro Troyano, 41, and Oscar Hicks, 38, are all charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.
The gang stalked jewellery salesman Joseph Savoie before violently attacking him at the Elmsleigh Shopping Centre car park in Staines, Surrey and stealing £4.1 million in jewels
Kingston Crown Court was told the gang used a Mercedes with stolen plates to approach their unsuspecting victim after travelling in that car and a blue Ford Fiesta.
The group stalked Mr Savoie before they pounced on him in a shopping centre car park, it is alleged.
In the week before the robbery, which left the salesman with serious injuries, the thieves travelled to Solihull, West Midlands, to stake out the Ernest Jones store there, jurors heard.
Another member allegedly did the same the following day at a store in Maidenhead, Berkshire.
Little did they know, their movements were being recorded through CCTV, mobile phone records, and ANPR cameras.
The night before the violent attack, Mr Savoie stayed with the gems in a hotel room after not being able to deliver them to the closed Staines store.
Prosecutor Ryan Richter told the court: ‘Unknown to him there were efforts going on that night to prepare the attack on him the next day.
‘At about 10pm that night Mr Carvajal’s Ford Fiesta vehicle was captured on ANPR making a trip that going from his home to the Staines area.
Kingston Crown Court was told the gang used a Mercedes with stolen plates to approach their unsuspecting victim after travelling in that car and a blue Ford Fiesta
‘CCTV picked up the Ford Fiesta vehicle driving around the scene for about 15 minutes in the vicinity of the shopping centre.
‘The driver seemed to be paying particularly close attention to the car parks of that shopping centre.’
The next morning, the group travelled together to that car park in the Ford Fiesta and Mercedes, switching the number plates on the Mercedes before they struck, the court heard.
Mr Richter said: ‘There was a change of number plates at 7:30am.’
The jury heard how just over an hour later the four assailants attacked Mr Savoie after laying in wait in the multi-storey car park of the shopping centre.
Mr Richter said: ‘He parked up close to the access to the shop, he sat in his car for a few minutes because there was a funny sketch on the radio.
‘He then got out of his car and made his way round to the boot where the case was. As he was walking around he became aware of another car approaching and he noticed it was a Mercedes vehicle coming towards him at a normal speed.
‘He then heard the car door shut and turned around – he was punched hard in the face.
‘It was so strong it immediate knocked him to the floor. As he lay on the floor he was repeatedly punched and kicked. He remember there was one male assaulting him and maybe two others at the car.
‘The man who was attacking him grabbed his wrist and said ‘give me your watch.’
‘He was wearing a gold necklace and that was torn from him.
‘The blows he was receiving made him fade slightly in and out of consciousness and he realised he was in a very serious situation and had to protect his own life so got up and fled.
‘He got some help form a store nearby and came back shortly afterwards to see what happened.
‘He saw that his car had been thoroughly searched. The briefcase with £4 million worth of jewellery was gone. But not content with that the robbers had gone on to take all of his personal effects including his passport, wallet, medication, and sunglasses.’
After the robbery the gang’s Mercedes was seen speeding away at such speed it smashed right through the barrier to the car park.
After police tracked the gang using CCTV and ANPR cameras, searches of their homes revealed items the victim identified as his, as well as a bottle of medication with his name printed on it, the court heard.
Items of jewellery were also recovered from pawn shops near the defendants’ addresses, the jury was told.
Gardner, from Wood Green north London, Carvajal, from Lewisham south east London, Troyano, of Southwark, south London and originally from Colombia, and Hicks, also of Southwark all deny the charges of conspiracy to commit robbery.
The trial continues.