The following men were sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on Wednesday, 14 April:
Richard Palmer, 39 of Gurnell Grove, Ealing, was sentenced to 15-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.
Bolanle Roberts, 43 of Balfour Road, Ealing, was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.
Robert Dolan, 34 of Sutton Court Road, Hounslow, was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years’ imprisonment.
Palmer pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to attempted murder, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and transferring a prohibited firearm. He was found not guilty of another count of transferring a prohibited firearm following a trial.
Roberts was found guilty of four counts of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and possession of ammunition with intent to endanger life. He previously pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to transferring a prohibited firearm, five counts of possession of a prohibited firearm, possession of unlicensed ammunition, five counts of possession of a prohibited firearm for transfer, two counts of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and possession of criminal property.
He was found not guilty of another count of transferring a prohibited firearm in relation to providing Palmer with the Beretta used in the attempted murder.
Dolan pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to assisting an offender, conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and possession of criminal property.
The court heard that at about 12.30am on 25 August 2019, Palmer was the passenger in a silver Jaguar which parked-up on Rupert Street in Soho. He was captured on CCTV attending a nearby nightclub.
At about 03:00hrs, a fight broke out in the nightclub which resulted in a man being stabbed. The club closed and the attendees left; the fight soon resumed outside in Rupert Street between the same two apparent groups.
During the altercation taking place outside, Palmer rapidly dashed off after the victim and as he got closer, drew a Beretta handgun from his bag – resulting in screams and shouts from innocent parties. One man could be heard telling the victim to run.
Palmer then caught up with the victim, aged in his 20s, and fired two shots at him in the middle of a busy street full of onlookers, hitting him twice in the back. Palmer then ran back to the Jaguar and the car drove off from the scene shortly before 3.20am
The victim self-presented at a central London hospital shortly before 3.30am with gunshot wounds. While he suffered damage to his internal organs, thankfully his injuries were not life-threatening – although they easily could have been. The stab victim from the nightclub was taken to hospital by the London Ambulance Service and his injury was also assessed as not life-threatening.
Detectives from the Specialist Crime Command attended the scene of the shooting and found two bullet casings. They began reviewing CCTV and speaking to witnesses to put together a picture of what had happened and bring those involved to justice.
As part of their enquiries, officers found the silver Jaguar parked outside an address in Ruislip on 26 August 2019. Detectives examined the car and found Palmer’s fingerprints on the rear doors.
Enquiries revealed that Palmer met-up with Roberts the day after the shooting to get rid of the Beretta.
Following a chase and a struggle, Roberts was arrested on 27 August 2019 in the West Acton area. He was searched and officers found £48,132.68 in cash as well as 0.6kg of heroin and 14.6kg of crack cocaine, with a combined street value of about £27,000. Officers also found a set of keys to a flat on Coleridge Drive in Ruislip, which was not his home address.
Detectives conducted a search at the address on 28 August 2019 where they found a cache of firearms and ammunition hidden in a rucksack that was in an airing cupboard, as well as a significant quantity of Class A drugs in the living room – some 2.17kg of heroin with a street value of £95,000.
All five of the seized firearms were sent off for testing and were found to be in working order.
Among the items recovered was the loaded Beretta used in the shooting on Rupert Street – complete with ammunition and a home-made silencer that fit it perfectly.
The court was told that Roberts was a ‘quartermaster’ for individuals who needed access to firearms and ammunition and he could produce them when called upon.
On the afternoon of 26 August 2019, detectives established there was mobile phone contact between Palmer and Roberts and cell site and ANPR evidence that suggested Roberts went to Palmer’s address in Ruislip and drove them both to the flat on Coleridge Drive – where Roberts kept his cache of guns and ammunition – before returning Palmer home.
After becoming aware of Roberts’ arrest, Palmer decided to hide himself away to evade being arrested by the police. He was assisted in doing this by Dolan.
On 28 and 29 August 2019, there was repeated mobile phone contact between Palmer and Dolan – Dolan also made a number of calls to hotels in the area.
The court heard that on 28 August 2019, Dolan and Palmer had a conversation where they discussed the shooting, Roberts’ arrest, that the police arrested the wrong person, the firearm and Palmer being worried he was caught on CCTV and his fingerprints were on the Jaguar. The conversation resulted in Dolan agreeing to help Palmer to ‘lie low’ in a hotel in Hanwell.
In the early hours of 29 August 2019, Dolan and Palmer went to a takeaway together in the Hounslow area before travelling to the hotel in Hanwell. Dolan entered the hotel, booked a room and provided his mobile number to staff. He left the hotel and went home and a short while later Palmer entered and walked towards the rooms.
Palmer stayed at the hotel and was arrested there in the early hours of 30 August 2019. Dolan was also arrested on the same day at his home address in Teddington, where officers seized a shoebox containing £6,840 and a mobile phone, which had the same phone number provided to hotel staff the day before.
All three men were subsequently convicted as above.
Detective Sergeant Chris Ladmore, the investigating officer from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command, said: “This operation started off as an attempted murder investigation, but led to us discovering a cache of loaded firearms and a wealth of ammunition that we were able to remove from the streets of London. Every bullet seized is a potential life saved.
“The victim who was shot on Rupert Street was lucky to survive – it easily could have had a different ending. The shooting is a stark reminder of the selfish disregard for human life and brazen use of firearms that people like Palmer and Roberts hold.
“Tackling violence remains our top priority and restricting the availability of firearms is critical to protecting communities. Firearms have no place in London and this seizure has inevitably prevented further violence. We will continue to robustly target both those who carry firearms and those who supply them.”
Detective Chief Inspector Sean Stewart, the senior investigating officer who was attached to the Specialist Crime Command at the time of the investigation, said: “These sentences are a testament to the excellent work undertaken by DS Ladmore and his team.
“With the support of colleagues in Met Forensics and the Specialist Crime South (West) Proactive team, they have successfully removed some extremely violent offenders from the community and prevented the future use of these lethal weapons.
“The gunman, Palmer, showed no regard for his actions in what was a crowded area. I want to thank the members of public for reporting the incident to police on the night, and for the witnesses that demonstrated real courage coming forward to testify.
“The Met is committed to reducing violent crime. However, we also rely on our communities to help us and I would urge anyone with information about someone who may be carrying a weapon to contact police immediately whether in person or anonymously.”