Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 18:24 UK

40m Graff robbery accused was 'sorry for the crime'

Defendants Craig Calderwood (l) and Aman Kassaye
Craig Calderwood and Aman Kassaye deny conspiracy to rob

A man accused of carrying out a £40m robbery at Graff Jewellers in central London said he was "truly sorry for the crime" in a letter, a court has heard.

Woolwich Crown Court heard the letter was found in Craig Calderwood's prison cell after his arrest.

Mr Calderwood, 27, who denies planning and executing the raid and possessing firearms, also apologised to staff who were held at gunpoint, the jury heard.

Nine defendants deny conspiracy to rob the Mayfair jewellers on 6 August 2009.

The robbers, who used professional make-up to disguise their appearance, forced employees to hand over jewellery, which has not been recovered, the jury heard.

'Admitting my guilt'

The letter, which was read in court by prosecutor Philip Bennetts, said: "I'm truly sorry for the crime I committed.

"The man you are going to see in the video, that's not me. I'm not that person.

"I dug a hole, a great big hole, for myself in life and now by admitting my guilt I'm now filling it in with me in it."

The jury heard that Mr Calderwood also apologised to the staff "for the traumatic and scary ordeal I must have put them through".

Mr Bennetts said: "He accepts he was involved in the planning and commission of the robbery. He accepts he was the robber.

Items of jewellery stolen in the robbery
Staff were forced to hand over items of jewellery at gunpoint

"He says though, he committed the robbery under duress and he was in fear for his life and that of his immediate family if he did not do so."

Aman Kassaye, 24, and Craig Calderwood planned and executed the heist, entering the jewellers and stealing the gems at gunpoint, the court heard.

The robbers took Petra Ehnar, a shop assistant, hostage to make their way to a getaway car and subsequently used several cars, vans and trucks to block traffic and delay the police.

The jury was told how in one of the getaway cars police found a loaded sawn-off shotgun and a phone, with Mr Kassaye's number in its memory. Mr Bennetts said forensic tests showed that the gun had been fired.

Mr Kassaye held Ms Ehnar at gunpoint and also fired shots at members of the public as they fled the store, the court heard.

Clinton Mogg, 42, provided an innocent make-up artist to make Mr Kassaye and Mr Calderwood look as if they were in their 60s, the court was told.

The nine defendants are:

Aman Kassaye, 24, of no fixed address

Craig Calderwood, 27, of no fixed address

Solomun Beyene, 25, of Lilestone Street, Marylebone, north-west London

Clinton Jamal Mogg, 42, of Westby Road, Bournemouth, Dorset

Courtney Lawrence, 31, of Ladbroke Grove, west London

Gregory Jones, 30, of Elgin Avenue, Maida Vale, west London

Benjamine McFarlane, 22, of Paveley Street, Marylebone, north-west London

David Joseph, 23, of Flaxman Road, Loughborough Junction, south-east London

Thomas Thomas, 45, of Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, south-west London

Mr Kassaye also denies kidnap and possession of a handgun and sawn-off shotgun.

Mr Calderwood also denies possessing a handgun and sawn-off shotgun.

The trial continues.

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