Six convicted of SAS-style robberies, London

Six men have been convicted at court for committing a string of "SAS-style" robberies across London and three counties.

The gang, who dressed in black uniforms complete with balaclavas, would arm themselves with machetes, firearms and Tasers to raid building societies and commercial businesses in East London, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

During one incident members of the gang smashed their way into a building society in Holt, Norfolk. They escaped with £81,000 in cash and one startled witness commented that they looked like members of the SAS swooping on the quaint market town.

On another occasion they fired a Taser at a G4S worker as he delivered cash to a supermarket in Kings Lynn. They escaped with £21,000.

Other members of the gang had also targeted car dealerships and had managed to escape from a Nissan garage in Bury St Edmunds with a Nissan Navara 4×4 worth more than £40,000. The vehicle was later used to carry out further armed robberies.

One of the men involved, Mark Richards, 29 years, of South Hall Drive, Rainham, Essex admitted his role in the operation at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 13 August 2010. He pleaded guilty to three armed robberies and three counts of conspiracy to burgle between 2007 and 2009.

The other defendants were convicted at the same court of robbery offences amounting to £500,000 in cash being stolen, as well as stealing a significant number of high-performance vehicles.

The alleged ringleader of the plots, Danny Speed, 29 years, of Eisenhower Drive, Beckton, was convicted of four armed robberies as well as three counts of conspiracy to burgle between 2007 and 2009.

He appeared with;

Lee Watson, 43 years, of Eisenhower Drive, Beckton, convicted of four armed robberies between 2007 and 2009. He had previously pleaded to one count of conspiracy to burgle between 2007 and 2009.

Andrew McCracken, aged 30, of Oglethorpe Road, Dagenham, convicted of three armed robberies between 2007 and 2008.

James Cook, 29 years, of Bush Grove Road, Dagenham convicted of one count of conspiracy to burgle in 2009.

Scott Guy, aged 36, of no fixed abode convicted of one armed robbery in 2009.

Two further men, James Sweeney, 30 years, of Laindon, Essex and Aaron Wiltshire, aged 23, of Downing Road, Dangenham were acquitted of committing an armed robbery in Essex in 2009.

Detective Inspector Jason Hendy, of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Flying Squad, said: "Today’s results follow a lengthy operation designed to target violent individuals who would stop at nothing to secure large sums of money by force.

"They operated as a professional criminal network making sure they stole the best vehicles to carry out the most brazen raids. We dedicated significant resources to track them down and ensure we built a strong case to present to court.

"The convictions demonstrate our commitment to deal with violent and organized crime in our communities."

The men will be sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 4 February 2011.

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