Two men who targeted a fashion designer to the Duchess of Cambridge for her £25,000 Rolex watch in a terrifying axepoint robbery have been jailed for more than ten years.
Connor Murphy, 26, brandished the fearsome weapon at Amanda Wakeley OBE in an ambush as she walked to her car, shouting “give me your watch” as an accomplice grabbed the 57-year-old around the neck and dragged her to the ground.
When Ms Wakeley’s designer gold Rolex had been wrestled free in the shocking broad-daylight attack in Chelsea, members of the public rushed to her aid as the thieves fled on a moped.
The designer – a favourite of both the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex and known for her signature evening dresses – was left with neck pain after the mugging, Isleworth crown court heard. Her husband Hugh Morrison said she was “naturally shocked” in an Instagram message the following day.
Murphy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery while Chelsea resident Richard Walsh, 29 admitted he had been instrumental in planning the crime including researching the value of Ms Wakeley’s watch online.
Judge Simon Davis sentenced Murphy on Thursday to six years in prison and jailed Walsh for four years and nine months, saying it was a “carefully planned and organised robbery” with the “hallmarks of some professionalism”.
Andrew Caird, from the CPS, said: “This was a targeted and terrifying robbery in broad daylight. One defendant was wielding an axe at the victim and the other put her into a headlock before snatching the Rolex watch off her and fleeing.
“The prosecution case included strong CCTV and telephone evidence which included images of the same Rolex watch that was stolen from the victim, on Walsh’s phone.”
CCTV footage of the mugging, just before 9.30am on November 13 last year, showed Ms Wakeley walking with her dog to her car but pausing when she realised one of her tyres had been deflated.
As she went to inspect the problem, Murphy rode on to the pavement on a moped while brandishing the axe, and the other man – who has not yet been caught – grabbed the fashion designer around the neck.
“You can see Mr Murphy producing the axe and making the threats while [the accomplice] is taking Ms Wakeley to the ground”, said prosecutor Diana Wilson.
The court heard Ms Wakeley offered to hand over her watch to end the ordeal, and had to unclip it as the thief was struggling to wrestle it from her wrist.
Ms Wilson added that Ms Wakeley’s car tyres had been deflated repeatedly in the days before the robbery, indicating that the “violence and unpleasant robbery” had been pre-planned.
Police identified a BMW which had been driven to the scene by one of the muggers and put it under surveillance by plain clothes officers. Walsh, who lives just a short walk from the scene of the robbery, was seen driving the BMW away once he mistakenly believed police officers had left.
He had not been present when the mugging took place, but had researched the value of Ms Wakeley’s watch online and used his local knowledge to help plot the ambush. Walsh told the court he did not know that an axe was going to be brandished.
Both defendants have long criminal records, including burglaries, thefts, and drug offences. Lucy Daniels, for Murphy, said he used the stolen watch to try to settle a drugs debt, having been told to target Ms Wakeley.
Murphy, of Ladbroke Grove, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and having an offensive weapon, and Walsh, from Chelsea, admitted intentionally encouraging the commission of an offence, namely a robbery.