Forty years in prison for criminal network gang headed by businessman Michael O'Driscoll
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Forty years in prison for criminal network gang headed by businessman Michael O'Driscoll

MEMBERS of a criminal gang headed by businessman Michael O'Driscoll have been jailed for a total of 40 years for crimes including drug and firearm offences. 

The jailing of the six men on Friday, May 26 follows a lengthy operation into their organised criminal network (OCN) by the Metropolitan Police.

Detectives launched 'Operation Ruda' in May 2015 to tackle an OCN headed by O'Driscoll. It was quickly established that he was linked to the other five defendants.

Officers discovered that the OCN was involved in the prolific supply of drugs, firearms offences and large-scale handling of stolen goods from organised burglary and armed robbery.

O'Driscoll ran two businesses – a florist called Flowers in the Wind, and David Simmons Jewellers in the Garratt Lane area of Wandsworth. These commercial premises were used to support his criminality and that of others across Britain.

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By December 2016, officers had gathered extensive intelligence and evidence against the OCN.

On Wednesday, January 25, more than 200 officers and support staff were deployed to arrest numerous suspects and search 20 addresses across the south-east.

A search of the Wandsworth jewellery shop recovered stolen jewellery and £32,000 in cash.

Michael O'Driscoll, 58 of Claremont Avenue, New Malden near Twickenham was sentenced to a total of 16 years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to a series of offences.

The offences included encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence by introducing another to supply a 9mm automatic handgun; supplying MDMA; being concerned in the supply of ketamine; offering to supply ecstasy tablets to another; encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence by planning an armed warehouse robbery; conspiracy to handle stolen goods; attempting to handle stolen goods, and transferring criminal property of £35,000.

'Harm done is clear for all to see'

Detective Inspector Philip McInerney, from the London Crime Squad, said: "This operation has had a significant impact on the supply of drugs across the south-east. A fully established organised crime network has been dismantled and these men now face lengthy prison sentences.

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"The harm they have done, not only by supplying drugs, but also by providing firearms and committing robberies, is clear for all to see. They are all now facing lengthy prison sentences.

"We remain committed to taking drugs and firearms off the Capital's streets and will arrest those involved in their supply."

The other members of the gang, including a father and son, received sentences ranging from eight years to two years eight months.

Robert D'Acosta, 55, of Beltona Gardens, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire was jailed for eight years for supplying ketamine; possession with intent to supply of cocaine, ketamine and cannabis, and possession of criminal property, namely £45,000 cash.

Karl Couling, 36, of Leigh Place, Feltham was jailed for six years for selling/transferring a 9mm pistol and ammunition.

David Terry Simmons, 62, of Portsmouth Road, Thursley was jailed for four years for conspiracy to handle stolen goods; attempting to handle stolen goods, and transferring criminal property.

His son, David Lee Simmons, 38, of Garratt Lane, Earlsfield was sentenced to two years and eight months' imprisonment for manufacturing a stun gun; conspiracy to handle stolen goods, and attempting to handle stolen goods.

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Kevin Edwards-Pritchard, 32, of Wingate Crescent, Croydon was sentenced to three years and eight months' imprisonment for encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence, by planning an armed warehouse robbery.

During the investigation, a total of 15 people were arrested for a variety of offences, including conspiracy to supply firearms and drugs, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and the handling of stolen goods on a commercial scale. One person has been informed that no further action will be taken; eight others remain on bail pending further enquiries.