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Escaped armed robber jailed after raids

PUBLISHED: 07:53 17 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 March 2010

AN ARMED robber escaped from Hollesley Bay Prison and within weeks committed a terrifying series of raids across London.

Paris-born Stof Rachide was in the third year of a seven-year sentence for attempted robbery at the Suffolk open prison when he absconded in July last year.

AN ARMED robber escaped from Hollesley Bay Prison and within weeks committed a terrifying series of raids across London.

Paris-born Stof Rachide was in the third year of a seven-year sentence at the Suffolk open prison for attempted robbery when he absconded in July last year.

The unemployed 28-year-old, of no fixed address, went on to be dubbed the "Travelcard Raider" because he used the tube to make his getaway during a spate of armed robberies around the capital.

He escaped Hollesley Bay on July 2 while allowed out on day release to attend a job interview in Ipswich to care for the elderly.

Rachide was eventually caught in February 2002 and yesterday received an 11-year jail sentence at the Old Bailey, to run consecutively with his seven-year sentence for armed robbery.

He admitted five robberies, seven charges of possessing an imitation firearm and two attempted robberies.

Within three weeks of his escape Rachide targeted banks and building societies in Perivale, North Acton, Rayners Lane and Leytonstone.

He was captured on CCTV using an imitation pistol to force staff to hand over cash.

Detectives believe that Rachide could have committed as many as 22 raids during his seven months on the run, netting more than £18,000, the court was told.

Martin Hicks, prosecuting, said: "The targets were remote banks or building societies situated in east and west London. All were situated near tube lines.

"It was a means of transport that became part of his trademark as he moved from and between these venues. Each involved a black imitation weapon being produced from a plastic bag and accompanied by a demand for cash."

Det Con Paul Hawkins from the Metropolitan Police, added: "Rachide stole in excess of £18,500 and caused fear in those he robbed. Armed robberies even with an imitation firearm is a very serious offence.

"Many of the victims were left traumatised, including one woman who was a victim of Rachide twice."

Rachide moved to Britain in 1995 and worked as a baker in London before moving to Harlow in Essex.

He was jailed in December 1998 at Chelmsford Crown Court for taking part in an unsuccessful armed raid on a branch of Natwest in Frinton-on-Sea in May that year.

Jailing Rachide at the Central Criminal Court, Recorder Roger Henderson QC said: "The offences committed by you were brazen and made with little attempt to disguise yourself.''

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