A prolific armed robber has been jailed for life after committing a series of robberies and bomb hoaxes in East London.
Omar Farooq, 63 (20.3.1955) of Melford Road, East Ham was convicted of the following offences at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 12 June following a two-day trial:
2 x robbery;
2 x possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence;
2 x bomb hoax – placing an article with intent;
1 x attempted robbery.
He was sentenced at the same court to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of seven years, on Tuesday, 10 July.
Police were called at 05:45hrs on 17 October 2017 to reports of a robbery at a supermarket in High Street South, East Ham. Farooq had entered and approached a supervisor opening the store from behind. He pointed an object – which the victim believed to be a gun – in his back before forcing the victim to open the tills. He then demanded to be shown the safe.
The victim complied but told Farooq he could not open the safe. Farooq fled shortly after when a delivery driver arrived at the store and realised what was happening.
Police were subsequently called to reports of a robbery at a post office on the same road at 09:00hrs on 28 October 2017. Farooq entered the store dressed in black with his face covered. He slid a note under the counter to a member of staff.
The note said he was carrying out a robbery and had placed a bomb within the store. Farooq said it would go off in three minutes, but he would set it off sooner if he wasn’t handed money from the tills. He also declared he had a gun.
Farooq placed a small, blue alarm clock which he claimed was the bomb inside the store’s photo booth before fleeing the scene.
Police were called to a third incident at 17:15hrs on 7 November 2017 after Farooq attempted to rob a newsagents on the same road. He approached the shop’s owner and produced an imitation firearm. He demanded money, but the victim refused. Farooq attempted to force his way behind the counter but was stopped by other staff members.
Farooq declared he had a bomb and threw a small clock, similar to the one used in the post office robbery, into the store before fleeing.
Detectives from the Met’s Flying Squad launched an investigation. The clocks and threatening note were sent for forensic examination. Officers discovered blood particles on one of the clocks and further testing revealed it to be a match to Farooq.
Detective Constable Annie Hendy, of the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “Farooq targeted venues along a road just around the corner from his home address. He was actually a regular customer at two of the locations. These horrific offences had a huge impact on the tight-knit trading community within the area and left one family feeling as if they had no option but to sell their premises after 33 years of trading.
“Farooq is a career criminal who tried to claim in evidence he had retired from a life of crime. He showed no regard for the welfare of his own community whilst carrying out these terrifying robberies. He also showed no respect for the criminal justice system and absolutely no remorse despite having previously been jailed for exactly the same offences he has now been sentenced for.”