A man has been jailed for 10 years for attempting to rob two Arsenal footballers of luxury watches worth £200,000 in July of this year.
Ashley Smith and his accomplice, who were both armed with improvised blades, did not count on the bravery of the club’s Bosnian defender Sead Kolašinac in fighting back, Harrow crown court heard.
His teammate Mesut Özil then drove them from the ambush as the would-be robbers pursued the footballers on a stolen moped and threw stones, the court was told.
Smith, 30, who was described by the judge, Ian Bourne QC, as a prolific career criminal well known to the police, was on licence from a 42-month sentence for burglary in 2017 when he tried to rob the Arsenal players.
Smith, of Archway, north London, had previously pleaded guilty to the attempted robbery near Kolašinac’s home in Hampstead, north-west London.
The judge said Smith, who appeared in court via video link, played a leading role in the “very serious” attempted robbery with Jordan Northover, 26.
The would-be robbers used a stolen moped and wore helmets and dark clothing to try to conceal their identities.
Smith and Northover had been circling the area and looking for potential victims when they targeted the players.
Kolašinac had arranged to meet Özil, who was in a car with his wife, the court heard.
The judge said Kolašinac, whose nickname is the Tank, “must have been terrified by the events which took place immediately outside his house”.
Smith and Northover were “armed and dangerous” and were using a knitting needle and a pointed screwdriver as weapons, the judge said.
“Between them, they produced these weapons which they threatened Mr Kolašinac with, a long pointed blade which was thrust in the victim’s direction and made contact with him,” Bourne said.
“The two of them had not counted on Mr Kolašinac fighting back and he behaved incredibly bravely.”
The court heard footage showed Kolašinac attempting to engage with the culprits, but he was able to get in the car, which was then driven away by Özil.
The judge noted: “But that was not the end of it. The two men pursued the car along the high road and attempted to stop the vehicle, throwing stones at the car.”
The players managed to flee, but the stones caused significant damage to the vehicle.
The judge added that “fortunately for justice”, a member of the public later saw the moped being parked in Borehamwood and called the police. Officers were able to trace and arrest the defendants.
The judge said Smith had “an appalling criminal record” of 20 convictions from 38 offences, including assault, theft and burglary, dating back to when he was 14 years old.
Susan Meek, for the defence, told the court Smith had described the ambush as “a scummy thing to do and that when he takes drugs, these are the things he ends up doing”.
Smith was also ordered to pay £181 in a victim surcharge. Northover is to be sentenced at a later date, which has yet to be set.
The post Man jailed for trying to rob Arsenal’s Mesut Özil and Sead Kolašinac appeared first on The Guardian.