Two men have been cleared of acting as “spotters” in the gunpoint robbery of a £70,000 diamond-encrusted watch from former world boxing champion Amir Khan.
The 2004 Olympic silver medallist, 36, was targeted as he and his wife, Faryal Makhdoom, 31, left the Sahara Grill restaurant in Leyton, east London, on April 18 last year.
Ismail Mohamed, 24, of Edmonton, and Nurul Amin, 25, of Harringay, both in north London, denied conspiracy to rob and were acquitted by a jury at east London’s Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday.
A jury of five women and seven men deliberated for about two hours before clearing them both by unanimous verdicts.
Mohamed and Amin were accused of plotting an ambush with others in which Khan was forced to hand over his bespoke rose gold diamond-encrusted Franck Muller watch by gunman Dante Campbell, 20.
Mohamed and Amin were at the restaurant with another man called Hamza Kulane, who was not on trial.
They were accused of acting as “spotters” and dining in the restaurant to keep track of Mr Khan’s movements and relay them by phone to Ahmed Bana, 25.
Campbell and Bana, who drove the robbers to and from the scene in a silver Mercedes coupe, have admitted their roles in the plot.
Mohamed said Bana arranged with him to come to meet the group to buy cannabis but denied he alerted anyone from the restaurant that Mr Khan was there, and told the jury he had simply been scrolling through social media.
He told jurors he had not heard of Mr Khan before accompanying his friends to the restaurant to break their Ramadan fast.
He said that it was Kulane who pointed out that Mr Khan was at the restaurant when some sports fans spotted him and posed for photographs.
Mohamed said he then told Bana about the sportsman’s presence during a phone call.
On why a gunman later turned up at the scene, he told the court: “I do not know why he came. I do not know him.
“I do not know the reason he came over. I do not have his number.”
Rabah Kherbane, for Mohamed, said he gave “frank honest evidence” and on CCTV played in court “you can see he’s not a spotter”.
He said “they were legitimately out for dinner and you can see that on CCTV”, and “were eating dinner and they weren’t involved” in the robbery.
He added: “Most of us sitting in a restaurant use our phones. Most of us flick through the internet. It’s just so ridiculous to have to answer to using your phone when you’re in a restaurant.”
He said there is “no evidence in this case at all that links Mr Mohamed to firearms or that he knew there was a firearm” and “there is nothing after the event that links Mr Mohamed to the robbery”.
He told jurors: “We might have a laugh, sometimes, in court, that’s fine, humour is human. But there’s nothing funny about this young man being banged up for a year for something he didn’t do. Nothing funny at all.”
The robbery, which lasted just seconds, was captured on CCTV which has been played to the jury.
Khan, who was a unified world champion at light-welterweight, said he looked into the handgun’s barrel when the robber pointed it in his face and told him: “Take off the watch.”
In a closing speech, Zacharias Miah, for Amin, who did not give evidence in the trial, said: “We say categorically on his behalf that the prosecution’s case does not exist against Mr Amin. It is so weak that it does not exist at all.”
There were no calls between Amin and Bana, Campbell or the third man who was alleged to have been part of the plot or any forensic evidence linking Amin to the watch or gun.
If the defendants were part of the plot then they were “the worst spotters in the world”, according to Mr Miah.
Campbell, of Hornsey, and Bana, of Tottenham, both in north London, have admitted conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.
They will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.