The Independent London Newspaper


Moped death-smash phone snatcher is jailed

Louis Kyriacou, right, with friend Lewis Johnson, who died in moped crash

Louis Kyriacou, right, with friend Lewis Johnson, who died in moped crash

Published: 18 November, 2016

AN ASPIRING actor who lost a friend when the moped they were riding crashed during a police chase has been jailed.

Louis Kyriacou, 20, was sentenced to 10 months in a young offenders’ institute – of which he will serve at least five months – for his part in a 45-minute series of phone snatches through Hackney and Islington in February. 

He was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to five counts of theft.

The court heard that on February 9, Louis was riding as pillion passenger on a stolen white Vespa moped with Lewis Johnson, 18, from Holloway, when they crashed into a van at Clapton Common after a two-mile pursuit by two police cars. 

Louis survived the crash but Lewis, a talented footballer, died at the scene. Around 11am that morning, the friends had launched a crime spree during which Louis snatch­ed smartphones out of the hands of five unsuspecting pedestrians while his friend drove the moped. 

On one occasion they mounted a traffic island to snatch an iPhone while the victim was talking to his mother. Louis yelled: “It’s mine now” as they sped off, the court heard. 

At the sentencing hearing, defence barrister John Kearney said  Louis had been seeing a psychologist to deal with the “dreadful consequences” of the crash. 

“The consequences of that day, and the fact that one of his friends lost his life, have had a dramatic effect on him,” he said. “He does not want anything to do with motorcycles anymore and he has stopped associating with the individuals that were [causing] him to be involved in crime.”

Mr Kearney said Louis wanted to dedicate himself to becoming an actor, adding: “He has to be punished but sending him to prison would have a [negative] effect on his future.”

However, Judge Will­iam Kennedy imposed a custodial sentence of 10 months for each offence, to run concurrently. 

“You and Lewis Johnson went out to steal high-value mobile phones by riding in on people minding their own business and simply snatching them and riding off, and with a degree of triumphalism that you were able to do so,” the judge told Louis. 

“You rode on the pavement and onto a traffic island and you were absolutely careless. And there was a tragic consequence. Lewis was unable to manage the bike, which lost him his life and could have lost you yours as well. 

“You must clearly understand that those who ride around the streets of London stealing phones cannot expect their liberty to be retained.”

Louis, who was accompanied by his mother, showed no emotion as he was taken into custody.

Scotland Yard has said that officers pursued the moped – which may have been used by different people to carry out similar phone thefts – was spotted by officers in Stamford Road, Dalston.

The Met has said officers gave chase after the moped failed to stop for police. The police helicopter was also called. 

Following a two-mile chase the moped collided with a van at Clapton Common. Five mobile phones were recovered from Louis’ jacket. He was taken to hospital with injuries and has since made a full recovery.

Lewis, whose nickname was “Lighty”, was a former St Aloysius’ College pupil and a promising footballer, who had played for Premier League side Crystal Palace’s youth team.

The police role in the incident is the subject of an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission. 

Three police constables have been served with gross misconduct notices in connection with the investigation. 

A police constable and a police sergeant – the drivers of the two cars – have been served misconduct notices and advised they are under criminal investigation. This does not imply guilt.

An inquest into Lewis’s death will be held at Poplar Coroner’s Court next year. 



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