Grenadier Guard wears medal to court as he faces trial with fellow squaddie for armed robberies

Two soldiers serving in the regiment that conducts ceremonial duties for the Queen carried out a string of armed robberies across south London in just three days, a court has heard.

Grenadier Guards Kristopher James-Merrill, 20, and Dillon Sharpe, 23, are alleged to have raided seven convenience stores with their friend Marlon Wright, 25, between July 24 and 26 2018.

The 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 and a mask, ‘threatened the shopkeepers with a handgun’, demanding they hand over cash, the prosecution said.

Marlon Wright outside Kingston Crown Court, today

Marlon Wright outside Kingston Crown Court, today

Kristopher James-Merrill

Kristopher James-Merrill

Grenadier Guards Kristopher James-Merrill, 20, (pictured right) and Dillon Sharpe, 23, are alleged to have raided seven convenience stores with their friend Marlon Wright, 25, (pictured left outside Kingston Crown Court today) between July 24 and 26 2018

It is said that he travelled by car to carry out the robbery spree and jurors heard James-Merrill’s Mercedes was linked to the crimes, while Wright was caught on CCTV.

James-Merrill, a serving soldier from Brixton, south-west London, arrived at Kingston Crown 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 Wright, from Mitcham, also in south-west 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, south-east 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.

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

The court heard that Sharpe, pictured, disguised in black clothing, a hood and a mask, threatened the shopkeepers with a handgun, demanding they hand over cash

The court heard that Sharpe, pictured, disguised in black clothing, a hood and a mask, threatened the shopkeepers with a handgun, demanding they hand over cash

The court heard that Sharpe, pictured, disguised in black clothing, a hood and a mask, threatened the shopkeepers with a handgun, demanding they hand over cash

‘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 around 11pm on July 24 2018 and the early hours of the following day.

Another three robberies or attempted robberies were carried out within just an hour on July 26.

Mr Coxhill said: ‘Over a three-day period between July 24 and 26 2018, the same hooded and masked man entered seven small convenience shops and robbed, or attempted to rob, the shopkeepers of cash.

‘On each occasion, he threatened those who worked there with what appeared to be a firearm.

‘It is the prosecution case that these defendants, together with another male Dillon Sharpe, each played a role in these offences.’

The court heard Sharpe entered the first shop in Croydon wearing a mask and black clothing, demanding the shopkeeper open the safe before pointing a handgun at him.

He made off with around £1,000 from the till after a scuffle which left the victim with injuries to his face and head, while police later recovered a magazine for a pistol nearby.

But Sharpe was thwarted as he tried to carry out a second raid nearby just five minutes later, Mr Coxhill said.

The prosecutor told jurors the shopkeeper was carrying a large wooden stick used to close the shutters when he saw the robber.

‘He instinctively ran towards him in an attempt to chase him off and Mr Sharpe ran out of the shop,’ he said.

The trial continues 

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