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London - A British court jailed 16 people for a violent rampage through a Michelin-starred restaurant in London's famed Notting Hill district during last year's riots, police said Thursday.
The gang of men and boys aged between 16 and 34 received prison sentences ranging from several months to nine years for the attack on the Ledbury restaurant and other businesses, Scotland Yard said.
The rampage on August 8, 2011, came on the third successive night of violence in London and other English cities following the shooting of a man by police in the troubled Tottenham district of North London.
Judge Usha Karu, sentencing the group at Inner London Crown Court on Wednesday, described them as a “pack of hounds involved in mayhem and mob criminality”, the Times newspaper reported.
The hooded gang went on a four-hour rampage through trendy Notting Hill during which the rioters raided several shops, a casino and another restaurant, and hit a shopkeeper over the head with a champagne bottle, police said.
Wielding sticks and bottles they then stormed into the Ledbury restaurant and ordered the 40 terrified diners to get down on the floor, leaving many of them cowering under tables.
The group stole cash and jewellery from the customers, including a wedding ring that they forced a terrified woman to take off.
CCTV footage showed a chef armed with a rolling pin leading a group of around 20 kitchen staff armed with knives and brooms who fought off the robbers.
The gang were convicted using CCTV footage, forensics and amateur rap videos on YouTube which showed three of the defendants together, Scotland Yard said.
“This was not a chance meeting of youths bent on causing disorder, but was, to a degree, a planned campaign between youths known to each other through local gangs,” prosecutor Alison Saunders said.
“Their actions terrified innocent members of the public and they left a trail of destruction in their path.
The Ledbury - known for dishes including roast scallop with fennel, liquorice and elderflower - was awarded two stars by the Michelin guide in 2011 and was named the world's 14th best restaurant in an international survey in April. - Sapa-AFP