JAILED: Armed robbery gang who stole £106k in raids across Staffordshire and West Midlands

A gang of armed robbers stole at least £106,000 in 10 raids which were carried out 'with military precision in as many months, a judge heard.

JAILED: Armed robbery gang who stole £106k in raids across Staffordshire and West Midlands

The raids were planned by Aidan Durant who started plotting the crime spree just two days after being freed from a jail sentence for robbery, Shrewsbury Crown Court was told.

The gang ambushed G4S couriers making cash deliveries and collections at banks and fast-food restaurants across the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Worcestershire between June 13, 2013, and April 29, 2014.

Miss Debbie Gould, prosecuting, said: "These were professional robberies planned with military precision during which it was demonstrated there was a willingness to use force if required."

June 21, 2013: Barclay's Bank, Penkridge. Man hooded 'as in Milk Tray advert' escapes with cash box holding £25,000 after knifepoint robbery.

July 10, 2013: Barclay's Bank, Stafford Road, Wolverhampton. Empty cash box stolen.

August 13, 2013: Barclay's Bank, Market Place, Shifnal. Cash box holding £25,000 stolen by masked raider armed with hammer.

September 19, 2013: McDonald's, Telford town centre. A G4S courier, also targeted in the June 21 raid, is robbed again; this time hammer-wielding raider escapes with £18,300.

October 8, 2013: Lloyds Bank, Shifnal. Motorcycle pillion passenger wielding knife grabs £25,000.

October 19, 2013: Lammascote Service Station, Stafford. £10,140 stolen.

October 24, 2013: McDonald's, Forge Retail Park, Telford. £5,466 taken.

November 25, 2013: Tesco Express, Kidderminster. No total available.

December 19, 2013: Barclay's Bank, Chase Terrace. £23,000 stolen at knifepoint.

April 29, 2014: Lloyds Bank, Lichfield Road, Stafford. Man wearing motorcycle helmet grabs £25,000 and flees on the back of motorbike.

On each occasion a robber armed with a hammer and knife – and wearing either a hood or full-face crash helmet – forced the courier to drop the cash box being carried when the daylight ambush occurred.

The gang escaped by motorcycle or car, often switching to a second getaway vehicle after a short distance to throw off pursuers.

The sites for the raids had been carefully checked by the robbers in advance, the court was told. At least one of the cars used was torched, after a robbery while others were soaked in bleach to destroy forensic clues before being dumped.

Durant, aged 30, used a fresh mobile phone on each raid in a bid to stop his calls being monitored, the court was told at yesterday's hearing.

One unlucky G4S courier was twice targeted by the gang on his deliveries, another was hit over the helmet with a hammer and a third struck on the arm during the cash snatches, it was said.

The mental trauma caused has since forced one of those who suffered at the hands of the gang to quit his job.

Durant, from Emerson Road, The Scotlands - freed on licence from a four year, five month sentence for conspiracy to rob two days before starting to plot the crime spree - lived in luxury on the proceeds.

He blew £6,500 on liposuction and also bought a fleet of cars including a Rover, Vauxhall Astra and two vans. He admitted conspiracy to rob involving 10 raids and was jailed for 14 years.

His 29-year-old former partner, Sally Hipkins, a mother of two young girls from North Road, Tipton, laundered cash from the raids, knowing where the money came from but was not personally involved in the robberies, said the prosecutor. She also drove a BMW and admitted using £15,500 of the stolen cash to buy another car.

Durant's friend - and former partner in crime - Craig Perry, aged 33, of Wentworth Road, Bushbury, admitted conspiracy to rob involving seven of the robberies and was locked up for 12 years.

He also torched one of the getaway cars and took his wife's Volvo without permission on a raid, the court was told. Perry also carried out surveillance on a McDonald's restaurant that would have been the target for the gang's 11th raid, it was said.

Lee Tonks, aged 34, from Dryden Road, The Scotlands, admitted aiding an offender by being involved with the arson of the getaway car and the aggravated taking of the Volvo. He was sent to prison for 18 months.

Judge Peter Barrie said: "This was a sustained conspiracy and not everybody involved is before the court. It was carefully planned, resulted in the stealing of a large amount of money and caused a great deal of fright."

Det Sgt Sean Brennan, part of the five-strong team of West Mercia and Staffordshire officers who hunted the gang, said last night: "We had very little evidence on those involved when the offences were looked at individually. That is why we could not charge them earlier.

"It took us six months of checking phone evidence, details from number plate recognition cameras and other information to piece together sufficient circumstantial evidence to put them in the dock and are very pleased with the result."

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