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Queen's Grenadier Guards 'carried out seven armed robberies in three days'

The Independent logo The Independent 14/01/2020 Vincent Wood
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves after the Royal Family's traditional Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk, eastern England, on December 25, 2019. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images) Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves after the Royal Family's traditional Christmas Day service at St Mary Magdalene Church in Sandringham, Norfolk, eastern England, on December 25, 2019. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Two soldiers from the famous military regiment that guards the Queen took part in a string of armed robberies across south London, a court has heard.

Grenadier Guards Kristopher James-Merrill, 20, and Dillon Sharpe, 23 – along with friend Marlon Wright, 25 - are alleged to have raided seven convenience stores with a BB gun across a three-day spree in July 2018.

Their regiment is one of the most senior in the British Army with soldiers recognised by the scarlet tunic and bearskin uniforms they wear while on ceremonial duty at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

Sharpe, disguised in black clothing, a hood, gloves and a mask, threatened shopkeepers with a BB handgun and demanded they hand over cash.

Mr James-Merrill s accused of supplying the weapon, using his Mercedes A-Class as a getaway car, and conducting reconnaissance with Mr Wright.

a person wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Independent

Kingston Crown Court heard one shopkeeper feared he would be shot and killed, while another was left bloodied with wounds to his head.

But four of the attempted raids failed and Sharpe left empty-handed after workers fought back.

Mr James-Merrill, a serving soldier from Brixton, southwest London, arrived at court on Monday with a military medal pinned to his dark blue suit, which he wore with a white shirt, striped tie and glasses.

He and Mr Wright, from Mitcham, also in southwest London, deny four attempted robberies, three robberies and seven counts of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

Sharpe, from Dulwich, southeast London, has previously pleaded guilty to all of the 14 charges and is not standing trial, the jury was told.

Prosecutor Fraser Coxhill said: "He therefore admits being the male who entered the shops wielding a handgun.

a group of people walking down the street: image © Provided by The Independent image

"There is no dispute these defendants are known to each other.

"Mr Sharpe and Mr James-Merrill were at the time serving guardsmen in the British Army and Mr James-Merrill is a serving Grenadier Guard.

"Marlon Wright was good friends with them both."

The court heard four shops were targeted between roughly 11pm on 24 July and the early hours of the following day, while another three attempts were made within an hour on 26 July.

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