A French national has been jailed for his involvement in a 2016 theft where an estimated £4 million worth of diamonds were stolen.

Mickael Jovanovic, 27, of Le Blanc-Mesnil, was part of an international organised group that stayed at a hotel in Ilford and pretended to be diamond buyers in the spring of 2016.

He was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday (May 29) to three years and eight months’ imprisonment.

The group spent several weeks before March 2016 in getting to know the victims and arranged a viewing for several diamonds.

Jovanovic, along with another man and several women, travelled to the UK from France and booked a hotel in Ilford before the theft.

On March 10, the group checked out of the hotel and separated into groups in Mayfair to prepare for the heist.

The seller received a phone call stating that a gemmologist named ‘Anna’ – who was actually part of the group – would be attending the Mayfair shop under the pretence of appraising the diamonds.

During this process, she carried out a sophisticated distraction theft and replaced the diamonds – that were valued at more than £4 million – before leaving.

The padlocked bag containing the ‘diamonds’ was returned to the safe.

After leaving the shop, ‘Anna’ met up with her co-conspirators on the street and handed the diamonds over before the group split up once more.

Within three hours of the theft, they had all returned to France either by train or car.

The following day, the victim spoke with the fake buyer, who confirmed the money would be transferred. Growing suspicious, the bag was opened to reveal the crime.

The police were contacted and detectives from the Met’s Flying Squad launched an investigation.

As a result of extensive CCTV enquiries, they were able to track the group across London as they carried out their planning ahead of the scam. It was established that they had used mini-cabs in an attempt to hide their movements but their departure from the country was quickly established.

The group’s images were circulated to other police forces and the investigating team never gave up hope that they would be caught.

On January 30, Jovanovic was extradited from Italy and arrested. He was charged the same day.

Jovanovic pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal on February 27 before his sentencing last week.