NEWCASTLE, UK – Three men including a young Zimbabwean who posed as gangsters to carry out a string of gun-point robberies on taxi drivers have been jailed for a total of 26 years.
Al-Hazzar Aremu, Brandon Makumbe and Silindokuhle Mabaso thought they were untouchable before being snared by detectives at Northumbria Police.
The self-proclaimed gangsters posted pictures and videos on social media posing with huge machetes, imitations firearms and smoking cannabis.
But it was this arrogance that eventually led to them being caught by police for a string of terrifying robberies of taxi drivers across Newcastle.
A court heard how the men targeted the drivers after travelling into the city centre and asking taxis to take them to remote locations.
They wore disguises during four different robberies in October and November last year during which they threatened the drivers wand stole their earnings.
On one occasion they made a driver kneel in an “execution style” while during other journeys they used knives and guns to terrorise their victims.
Detectives at Northumbria Police identified the three men as suspects and arrested them following three robberies in just four days in early November.
They carried out searches of their homes and found Scream and Guy Fawkes masks, balaclavas, an imitation firearm, a machete, a hunting knife and a host of stolen goods.
Officers also forensically examination their phones which led them to a hoard of pictures and videos of the gang posing with machetes and guns.
The evidence was so overwhelming that the three men admitted a string of robbery and firearms charges at Newcastle Crown Court and on Monday they were jailed for a total of 26 years.
Following the case, the investigating officer DC Steven Patterson said it was ultimately their arrogance that led to them being put before the court.
He said: “These men were desperate to be gangsters and they couldn’t help but brag about their offending and arsenal of weapons.
“It was this blind arrogance that ultimately proved to be their downfall and left them with little option but to admit their part in the robberies in court.
“These attacks would have been terrifying for the victims who had guns and knives thrust in their face while being threatened with extreme levels of violence.
“On one occasion a driver was made to get on his knees in an execution position as the offenders raided his vehicle for valuables and cash.
“None of these victims will forget what they went through and I know that some of them have been unable to return to work as a result of the robberies.
“However, I hope that they will take some comfort from the fact that these three men will now spend a significant amount of time behind bars.
“We are lucky that this type of violence is not common in our region and we do not have the same gang culture in Newcastle that other big cities do.
“The North East remains an incredibly safe place to live and we will continue to do all we can to put dangerous offenders like these before the courts.”
Aremu, 18, of Fourstones Close, Kenton, Newcastle, admitted four robberies, three counts of possessing an imitation firearm and one of threatening another with a knife. He was sent to a young offenders institute for 10 years.
Makumbe, 21, of Priory Court, Gateshead, admitted two robberies, one count of possessing an imitation firearm and one of threatening with a knife. He was jailed for nine years.
Mabaso, 19, of Avondale Rise, Byker, Newcastle, admitted two robberies and two counts of possessing an imitation firearm. He was sent to a young offenders institute for seven-and-a-half years.