September 16 2014 Latest news:
Tim Lamden and Paul Wright
Thursday, August 28, 2014
A keen amateur pianist whose finger was broken in a violent robbery outside her home faces the prospect of never being able to play properly again, after one of her attackers was jailed for nine years.
Susanne Suhonen, who describes playing piano as her “great passion in life”, was set upon by two men at around 11pm on November 26 last year after parking outside her home in Aberdare Gardens, South Hampstead, having returned from a piano lesson.
One of the men grabbed her neck while the other snatched her handbag, dragging her to the ground and breaking her finger in the process, before making off in a waiting vehicle with £3,000 worth of valuables inside the handbag.
On Tuesday, Junior Cooper, 35, of Bravington Road, Queen’s Park, was sentenced to nine years in prison for the attack and two other robberies in Westminster.
His accomplice Remy McLeod, 19, of no fixed abode, will be sentenced for his part in the robbery spree on September 8.
Former management consultant Mrs Suhonen, who has recently made a career move into recruitment, described her attackers as “disgraceful”.
She said: “The longer they’re away from the streets threatening innocent people, the better. They were cowards – two men jumping on a lonely woman – it’s disgraceful.
“They left my finger crooked and I’ll never be able to play piano the same way again, a great passion in my life. And I’ll always have the memory of what happened to me.
“I remember that day, those two individuals running towards me looking terrifying and them putting their hands over my mouth because I was screaming so loudly.
“They dragged me along the street so hard, it left holes in my trousers.”
Cooper, who was locked up in 2009 for a spate of robberies, was described in court as the leader of a gang of robbers who choked their victims in three violent attacks.
He drove the gang around in a stolen Audi, seeking out vulnerable women.
On November 15, the gang targeted a woman in Marylebone parking her car and then attempted to steal a handbag from another woman half an hour later in St John’s Wood.
Judge Michael Grieve said while sentencing Cooper: “Extreme planning was involved in all the robberies; women on their own likely to have valuable goods were targeted.”
Cooper, who has a history of crack cocaine abuse, was jailed for nine years after being found guilty in July of conspiracy to rob.
He was on licence at the time of the offences, and will serve the remaining three years of his 2009 sentence concurrently.
McLeod pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob in July.