Robbery gang jailed for 70 years

SEVEN members of a robbery gang who terrorised the region and carried out ruthless raids in Ipswich and Colchester have today been jailed for more than 70 years.

SEVEN members of a robbery gang who terrorised the region and carried out ruthless raids in Ipswich and Colchester have today been jailed for more than 70 years.

The group formed a violent and ruthless gang who targeted security vans making cash deliveries to banks, scooping £500,000 in their terrifying raids.

Raids took place at 18 locations in Colchester, Ipswich, Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Bath, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Reading and Gloucestershire between April 2006 and September 2007

Their reign of terror was only ended when armed police officers shot dead ringleader Mark Nunes, 35, and accomplice Andrew Markland, 36, dead during a foiled raid in Chandler's Ford, Hampshire.

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Today getaway driver Terence Wallace, 26, and another gang member, Adrian Johnson, 28, received the longest of the sentences handed down by Judge Richard Southwell at Kingston Crown Court, of 17 years apiece.

Leroy Wilkinson, 30, received 12 years, Leroy Hall and Leon McKenzie, 28, both received seven years, Brian Henry, 32, received six-and-a-half years and Victor Iniodu received five years.

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Wallace, Johnson, Wilkinson and Iniodu were found guilty of conspiracy to rob following a seven-week trial at Kingston Crown Court.

The other three pleaded guilty to being part of Nunes' gang before the trial began.

The gang struck at some locations twice and one guard in Colchester, Colin Frewer, was targeted on two separate occasions while making deliveries - and he fought back.

In July last year, Mr Frewer repeatedly punched two masked attackers who then fired a gun as a warning after they took his £25,000 cash box outside Lloyds TSB in St Christopher Road, Colchester.

He said: “I just saw red. I started lashing out.”

The 64-year-old was again robbed by some members of the same gang at the same bank in November last year.

Mr Frewer said he was pleased the gang had been caught and vowed to continue working as a security guard, even though he is eligible to retire next year.

During the trial the court also heard a statement from Group 4 security guard Mark Bridges.

He was targeted in a raid as he delivered money to the Lloyds TSB branch in Nacton Road, Ipswich, last September.

Mr Bridges said: “On September 7 (2007), I was walking across from the van to the bank and looking up, I saw a lad on a moped.

“My attention was drawn not to him, but to the black man standing next to him.

“He struck me as being a bit odd because of the clothing he was wearing - he had on a beanie hat pulled down past his forehead and a heavy winter coat, done up to the neck, even though it was a bright warm day.”

The court heard Mr Bridges carried out one drop-off to the bank at 10am and was returning with a second cash box containing £15,000 when he was approached by the black man, who held a gun at his head.

Mr Bridges said: “He said 'Drop the box, drop it' and I said 'Ok, ok' and dropped the cash box. The man grabbed it and ran off.

“It took a few seconds for me to register what had just happened to me. I kept saying to myself I have just been robbed.”

A further robbery said to involve Johnson was carried out on November 20 at the Lloyds TSB branch in Colchester, the site of a previous raid.

The following day officers arrested Johnson and while searching his house found £8,800 in cash in a shoe box under his bed - believed to be his share from the Colchester raid.

After the trial, Detective Inspector Terry Wilson, from the Metropolitan Police Service's Flying Squad, said: “The results do not though overshadow the fact that during the commission of one offence two men were fatally shot by police officers. The death of any person as a result of police action is deeply regrettable.

“We are a bespoke unit targeting those who commit these types of crimes. The fact we exist, along with today's convictions, should serve as a warning to all those who would consider committing such an offence.

“The fact that majority of the offences have taken place outside of London did not limit our ability to investigate. Many of the defendants convicted had previously come to the attention of the Flying Squad and as a result chose to operate outside of London in an attempt to avoid attention.

“We have excellent working relationships with other forces and this partnership allowed us to pursue Nunes and his team across Southern England.

“The assistance of other constabularies, in particular Avon and Somerset and Hampshire, was essential in achieving success this case.”

He added: “I would also like the public to note that although these offences may be seen as 'victimless crimes' the truth is far from it.

“These offences not only left many of the guards traumatised, but also would have an impact on the people whose homes were burgled to steal the cars the robbers used.”

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