Four convicted of robbery reign of terror
FOUR members of a robbery gang who terrorised the region and carried out raids in Ipswich and Colchester have today been convicted.
FOUR members of a robbery gang who terrorised the region and carried out ruthless raids in Ipswich and Colchester have today been convicted.
Terence Wallace, 26, Adrian Johnson, 28, Leroy Wilkinson, 29, and Victor Iniodu, 34, were members of a gang that targeted security vans making cash deliveries to banks, scooping £500,000 in their terrifying raids.
As well as Ipswich, the gang struck in Colchester, Cambridgeshire, Oxford, Swindon, Bristol, Bath, Hampshire, Reading, and Gloucestershire between April 2006 and September 2007.
Their reign of terror only ended when ringleaders Mark Nunes and accomplice Andrew Markland were shot dead by police in a failed raid in Hampshire.
Kingston Crown Court heard that the gang struck at some locations twice and one guard in Colchester was targeted on two separate occasions while making deliveries.
During the trial a statement from Group 4 security guard Mark Bridges was read.
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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
“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.
Getaway driver Wallace and other gang members Johnson, Wilkinson and Iniodu were found guilty by the jury of conspiracy to rob after more than 15 hours of deliberations.
Johnson was also convicted of a separate robbery committed last November but acquitted of possessing a gas canister.
The jury could not agree a verdict on the charge of Johnson possessing a gun and a not guilty verdict was formally entered on this count.
All four had denied the charges during the seven-week trial.
Three other men - Leroy Hall, Leon McKenzie and Brian Henry - pleaded guilty to being part of Nunes' gang before the trial began.
The whole gang will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.
Detective Inspector Terry Wilson, from the Metropolitan Police Service's Flying Squad, said: “Today's verdicts demonstrate the ability of the Flying Squad to convict those responsible for armed robberies through professional investigations.
“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.”