Havering men jailed for ‘sophisticated’ armed robberies

Two Havering men are among a robbery gang who terrorised shopkeepers during a campaign of armed raids.

The five men struck 14 times at stores across east London while brandishing weapons including hammers, crowbars and a converted blank-firing pistol.

The masked raiders, who were jailed for a total of nearly 40 years this week, got away with thousands of pounds in cash, as well as cigarettes, bottles of spirits, mobile phones and laptops.

Ringleaders Robert Russell, 21, of Leybourne Crescent, Harold Hill; and Stephen Nelson, 26, of no fixed address; along with accomplices Daniel Marston, 29, of Waterloo Road, Romford; and Joe Adams, 20, Adams, of Daylands Avenue, Conisborough, Doncaster, South Yorks, admitted their part in the robbery plot.

Getaway driver Wayne Lawrence, 29, who ferried the crooks from the crime scenes while banned from the roads, was convicted of his part after a trial.

Jailing them at the Old Bailey, the judge, Mr Recorder Martyn Levett said: “These were sophisticated offences.”

Lawrence was locked up for 14 years.

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Russell was jailed for eight years and four months while Nelson was handed nine years and four months.

Adams got three years and four months, while Marston received four years.

The gang began their campaign on November 20 last year at a Costcutter store in Grove Road, Walthamstow.

Two masked men burst into the store and fled with �600 in cash as well as cigarettes and drink.

The shopkeeper was punched in the face, while one customer had a pistol pointed at him.

Prosecutor Tim Hunter said: “On nine occasions they used firearms or imitation firearms to reinforce the threat of serious violence.

“On other occasions a hammer or crowbar was used in the course of the robbery.”

Tina’s Newsagent, in High Street, Romford, was targeted on February 9, and the gang grabbed �1,200 in cash, a laptop and a mobile phone stolen.

Lawrence, of Thompson Road, Dagenham, denied conspiracy to rob, conspiracy to possess firearms and possessing a prohibited firearm.

Russell and Nelson admitted the same charges.

Adams admitted conspiracy to rob in relation to two robberies.

Marston pleaded guilty to the same charge in relation to three of the raids.