The extraordinary case of a Yugoslavian hitman and Colombian drug dealers in Putney reached a conclusion with the jailing of two men for a total of 39 years at the Central Criminal Court for a series of violent and firearm-related offences. The charges relate to an incident in Putney High Street last year.
Detectives established that Kamran Anwar, a cocaine dealer, was robbed of £86,000 on 15.5.01 when a drug deal went wrong. Anwar sought revenge on those people that had robbed him and employed Igor Konopek for this purpose. Konopek is an ex-Yugoslav police officer who served in the 92nd Belgrade Brigade (a firearms rapid response unit).
On Monday 28.5.01, Anwar and Konopek observed an address frequented by a Colombian drug dealer in the Putney area. A vehicle containing three Colombian men drove past the address and Anwar and Konopek, both armed with semi-automatic weapons, pursued them in their vehicle. A minimum of five shots was fired into the Colombians vehicle wounding the driver who sustained a bullet graze wound to the stomach.
A passing uniform police car arrived at the scene of the shooting and gave chase. The suspects abandoned their car and made their escape on foot. Konopek pointed a loaded gun at the unarmed police officer who followed him. The officer managed to disarm Konopek and arrest him. Anwar was found hiding in a near by garden and was also arrested. The second firearm was recovered from their car.
In sentencing the two men, Anwar and Konopek, at the Old Bailey on Thursday May 16, His Honour Judge Forrester said ' Very long sentences are necessary , in part to punish but also to deter - to keep drug dealing criminals like yourselves off the streets and to protect the public.'
The Judge commended the actions of the two arresting officers, PCs Jeremy Archer and another officer - both of Wandsworth. Of PC Archer, he said "In the finest traditions of the Metropolitan Police Service he went after an armed and dangerous man without regard for his personal safety." He added that the public owed a debt of gratitude to these officers.
Speaking after the trial, Pc Archer said " Three men in a vehicle stopped us in Putney High Street and told us they had been shot at. We located the suspects' vehicle and began a pursuit. One man, later identified as Konopek, left the vehicle and I chased him down a side street off Putney High Street and into an alleyway."
Konopek put his hands into his top and pulled out a pistol. He pointed the gun at my stomach . I grabbed his hand and pushed the gun away. A brief struggle ensued, and Konopek threw the gun away. As he did this I managed to get one handcuff on him, but he ran off and I chased him.
He disappeared into a bush outside a block of flats, but a member of the public showed me where he was hiding and I arrested him.'
Following a six-week trial, Kamran Anwar, aged 30 years, of Oakley Road, Whetstone, Herts, and Igor Konopek, aged 32 years, of no fixed abode, were both found guilty of GBH, two charges of attempted GBH and three charges of possession of a loaded firearm with intent to endanger life. Anwar was today sentenced to 23 years imprisonment and Konopek sentenced to 16 years in prison.
The Serious Crime Group, under the leadership of DCI Richard Heselden, investigated the incident. As a result of enquires by the Serious Crime Group, an address belonging to Anwar was identified in North London. The address was searched and officers found two further loaded handguns, ammunition, cocaine and cannabis.
DCI Hesleden today said: "I am very pleased with the sentences passed today by His Honour Judge Forrester. These were two very dangerous criminals who had little regard for the safety of the public at large. I can only hope that these sentences will act as a deterrent to other people who deal in drugs and carry firearms as part of their drug dealing."
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22nd August 2002