Blunders led to pair's capture

TWO blundering armed robbers are behind bars today after making a catalogue of mistakes which led to their eventual convictions.

TWO blundering armed robbers are behind bars today after making a catalogue of mistakes which led to their eventual convictions.

Leroy Hardy and Steven Blacklaw have been sent to prison for 16 years and nine years respectively for their part in raids on Ipswich security vans.

Today Suffolk Police's Detective Inspector Dave Cutler, who led the investigation into the raids, said a number of errors from the criminals, combined with the hard work of police officers, had led to their eventual capture.

The mistakes from the pair included:

Their getaway car being caught by a speed camera on the A140 the day before the raid - further investigation revealed that a car driven by Hardy had been caught speeding by the camera seconds earlier.

Hardy was stopped by police in Ipswich that night in the same car. He gave his details to the police.

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A plastic drink bottle, which contained petrol and had Blacklaw's DNA on it, was left in the getaway car

The robbers dumped fake cash, handed to them in the first raid, in a rucksack in the river Orwell. It was found by a member of public and Blacklaw's fingerprints were found on one of the dud notes

Both had their mobile phones in Ipswich on the day of the first raid and police used phone records to prove they were in the town

In the second raid Hardy left a cigarette butt in the getaway vehicle and his DNA was found on it

Hardy, 38, of Tulse Hill, Brixton and Blacklaw, 25, of London Road, Hemel Hempstead, were found guilty of armed robbery by a jury at Ipswich Crown Court on Thursday - Hardy of two counts and Balcklaw of one.

On November 18 last year the duo, and another man, held-up a Securicor van with a gun and threatened guard Colin Frewer with petrol and lighter fluid threatening Mr Frewer's colleague by saying “Chuck the money out or we burn your mate”.

They stole £75,000 from the van as it collected money from Lloyds Bank in Nacton Road, Ipswich, and then made off into Nacton Crescent where they were seen getting into a white Ford Sierra.

Twelve weeks later, on February 10, Hardy returned to the scene with an accomplice and held-up the same crew - this time attacking Mr Frewer's colleague Rodney Lawlor.

Mr Lawlor was attacked with either a fist or the butt of the gun and hit on the face several times, needing hospital treatment for an injury to his eye.

Hardy and his accomplice got away with a further £75,000.

DI Cutler heralded the work of his colleagues in bringing Hardy and Blacklaw to justice and said officers had spent almost a year working on the case, liaising with the Metropolitan and Thames Valley police.

He said: “We were very lucky to be able to capitalise on their mistakes. We need little breaks occasionally but the rest is down to hard work with officers trawling through all of the possible scenarios and finding where they (the offenders) have slipped up.

“Getting caught on the speed camera was a pretty silly thing to do.”

LEROY Hardy was half-way through an eight year sentence for an armed robbery on another Securicor van when he carried out his first Ipswich hold-up.

The 38-year-old, described by DI Cutler as a “career criminal” had been released early on licence seven weeks before the first Ipswich raid. Police investigations showed that seemingly his only reason for targeting the town was that he had been to Zest nightclub.

Hardy, who lived in the Lambeth area of London at the time of the offence, already had more than 20 convictions to his name for more than 60 offences.

His raid on a Securicor van in north London in 2001 was very similar to the Ipswich attacks.

His accomplice in the first raid, Steven Blacklaw, had also served time for armed robbery committed in 2001 when he held-up a shopkeeper at gunpoint and demanded cash.

The duo met in prison where their plot to hold-up vans in Ipswich may have been hatched.

Blacklaw, a drug addict, was in custody again by the second offence and was undergoing a drug treatment and testing order.

He has a 13-year history of drug use, beginning when he was 12, and was convicted of supplying crack cocaine in February.

The inquiry into both robberies is still open because two men involved in the raids have never been found and anyone with information should call Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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