8 April 2024 06:33 Four men jailed for 52 years after police stop minicab and find knives and loaded gun DCI Sanderson states: “There is, clearly, no place for these weapons on our streets. Lewisham, is a much safer place with these men in prison."

A minicab stopped by police in Deptford led to the recovery of a loaded firearm and three large knives. Four men were arrested, and they have now been jailed for a total of 52 years.

DCI Lewis Sanderson, Specialist Crime, said: “These sentences reflect the seriousness of the men’s offences. They were travelling in a car with a gun and numerous large knives. Thankfully we will never know the harm they would have inflicted that day, but it seems reasonable to speculate that this investigation and these arrests could well have saved a life.

“There is, clearly, no place for these weapons on our streets. London, and in particular Lewisham, is a much safer place with these men in prison.

“I urge everyone to share what they know about the men of violence. Please tell us who is carrying a potentially lethal weapon, since every single piece of information is crucial. If you don’t want to speak with police directly, then contact the independent charity Crimestoppers.”

The proactive investigation, codenamed Operation Chanco, was launched in the spring of 2023. On 1 June 2023, armed police stopped a minicab on Cranbrook Road, Deptford. All four passengers in the vehicle attempted to make off from police.

Jamal Francis, 21, was detained within the vehicle and a large black and orange handled knife was located down the back of his trousers.

Jarell McKenzie, 20, was detained after a short foot chase. He was found to be in possession of a large knife and a bag of cannabis.

Gregton Bower, 19, ran for quite a distance while being followed by armed police officers. While being chased, Bower threw a samurai sword into bushes on Broadway Fields. He was eventually detained and arrested on New Butt Lane, SE8. Bower also had a bag of cannabis.

The fourth man managed to get away, however extensive CCTV and forensic lines of enquiry led to the arrest of James Rowland, 21, on 30 June 2023.

A search of the car recovered a loaded firearm in the rear of the vehicle.

All four defendants were found guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life at Woolwich Crown Court on 9 January 2024. Francis, McKenzie and Bower also pleaded guilty to possession of the knives at the time of their arrest.

On Friday, 5 April, the four were sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court.

Jamal Francis, (12.04.2002) of Adenmore Road, SE6 was jailed for 16 years.

Jarell McKenzie, (17.12.2003) of Avon Road, SE4 was jailed for nine years.

Gregton Bower, (03.07.2004) of Lewisham Way, SE4 was jailed for 13 years.

James Rowland, (03.11.2002) of Breakspears Road, SE4 was jailed for 14 years.