Wembley mother who stashed deadly guns has jail term increased

Tawana Blake. (Photo: Met Police)

Tawana Blake. (Photo: Met Police) - Credit: Archant

Tawana Blake, 32, had been paid by a gang to hide the lethal weapons at her address in Ealing Road.

Robert Hewitt. (Photo: Met Police)

Robert Hewitt. (Photo: Met Police) - Credit: Archant

She was caught after officers from the Met’s Trident North Proactive unit covertly observed a youth emerge from her home carrying a bag containing a sawn-off 12-bore Mossberg shotgun in January last year.

They pulled over the minicab he got into. The property was then searched and a revolver and bullets were found hidden in a bag at the top of her wardrobe.

Blake admitted three firearms and ammunition offences as well as having criminal property and was jailed for six-and-a-half years at the Old Bailey in December.

The court heard Blake’s children aged seven, five and three, were living at the same address.

Originally jailing her for six-and-a-half-years back in December, Judge Michael Wood, QC, said: “People who are prepared to store firearms provide a service to serious criminals by distancing those criminals from the police and reduce the risk of them being convicted.

“The fact you were paid as a reward for storing these firearms is also significant.”

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But on Tuesday, after a reference to the Court of Appeal by solicitor general Robert Buckland QC, three judges upped the term to eight-and-a-half years.

“A deterrent sentence is required where assistance to criminals is significant,” said Lord Justice Simon.

“The offender was the custodian of two firearms, both of which had ammunition and both of which were capable of being used to lethal effect.”

The court heard Blake had agreed to become involved in the weapons conspiracy after a request by criminal Robert Hewitt, 42, of Connaught Road, Harlesden, who was jailed for 11 years at the same court for organising the transfer of the shotgun in a text exchange with Blake.

But at this week’s hearing Mr Buckland’s lawyers suggested that Blake had had a choice on what to do and had accepted the weapons for money.

A “very severe” sentence should have been passed to deter others from helping criminals with their guns, the judges were told.

Ruling the original sentence “unduly lenient”, Lord Justice Simon accepted that Blake had felt “some degree of obligation” to help Hewitt, who was also jailed.

“However, she was rewarded for her services,” he added.

The least sentence appropriate to mark her crime was eight-and-a-half years, he concluded.

Mr Buckland said later: “This offender was involved in the professional supply of firearms, putting the safety of others at risk for financial gain.

“I am pleased that the Court of Appeal has increased this sentence.

“It sends a very strong message that crimes of this nature will be dealt with firmly.”

Blake initially denied two counts of conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon, possession of criminal property and possession of ammunition but eventually pleaded guilty on the first day of her trial back in August.

The youth who cannot be identified for legal reasons, and Hewitt were found guilty of conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon for sale or transfer between January 18 and 22 2016. Corey Callender, 22, from Bushey was acquitted of conspiracy to possess a prohibited weapon.