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Gang launched “carefully planned plot to free criminal from prison van”

Gang launched “carefully planned plot to free criminal from prison van”

A gang launched a "carefully planned" plot to try to free a dangerous criminal from a prison van, a court has been told.

The attempt to break Izzet Eren, who was being held on firearms offences, out of a prison van as he was being moved from Wormwood Scrubs prison to Wood Green Crown Court on December 11 2015 was foiled as police had bugged the gang's car, London's Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Armed police swooped on the gang, who had armed themselves with a replica Uzi gun, when their vehicles were near the north London court.

Accomplice Jermaine Baker, 28, of Tottenham, was shot dead by a police officer during the operation.

Prosecutor Jonathan Polnay described the escape attempt as a "carefully planned conspiracy with all the hallmarks of a professional crime".

He said the gang had used "dirty" or "burned" mobile phones to keep in contact with each other and that the gun looked "very realistic".

A member of the gang later tried to pass off the imitation weapon to police as just a pellet gun and a child's toy, but according to Mr Polnay it would have been "quite easy to mistake this replica for the real thing".

The gang, who are appearing at Woolwich Crown Court for sentencing, include Eren Hasyer, 25, of Enfield, who was found guilty of conspiring in the escape plot but cleared of possession of an imitation firearm with criminal intent.

Ozcan Eren , 32, of Wood Green - Izzet Eren's cousin - had denied the same charges but changed his plea part way through the trial.

Izzet Eren, 33, driver Nathan Mason, 31, plus Gokay Sogucakli, 19, who are all from Tottenham, pleaded guilty to the same offences.

The escape plot was launched as Izzet Eren was due to be sentenced for firearms offences. He had been caught in October with another man - Erwin Amoah-Gyamfi - carrying a loaded pistol and a Skorpion machine gun in north London as they drove on a stolen motorbike to allegedly carry out a shooting.

In a bid to avoid a lengthy jail sentence, Izzet Eren masterminded the escape plot from his cell, recruiting Ozcan to assemble a gang to break him out of the prison van while it was transferring him to court for sentencing.

Prosecutors said that Mason and Sogucakli, along with Baker, were parked in a stolen Audi estate near to Wood Green Crown Court.

They did not know the car had been bugged by police who, shortly before 9am, surrounded the vehicle and shot Baker.

Police later found the replica Uzi in the back footwell of the car.

Police said that gang members were in another car about a mile away and were communicating with Eren about the exact location of the van.

Mr Polnay said that Mason had driven the car "at speed" and in an "erratic" way to try to ensure it was not being followed.

In trying to explain the car's erratic movements, Nicholas Whitehorn, defending Mason, said in mitigation: "He had cannabis which he had smoked - those in the car had alcohol and at some stage there is evidence they had been asleep."

Izzet Eren texted instructions to the gang using a mobile phone from inside the van, telling them the registration number and the cell he was in.

Ozcan Eren acted as the link-man, passing on details of the texts to the rest of the gang.

Graeme Wilson, his defence lawyer, said he had been recruited "on the day or 24 hours" before the intended escape to act as a lookout and to check the possible routes the prison van might take.

Eren and Amoah-Gyamfi were jailed in December for 14 years for the offences they committed in October.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is still investigating the officer who shot Baker.

The officer has been arrested but has not been charged.