Romford armed robbers who posed as fire fighters convicted

The ring-leader behind a group of armed robbers, who dressed as fire fighters to hold up shopkeepers across east London, was convicted at the Old Bailey on Thursday.

Darren Lloyd, 36, of Pettit’s Road, Dagenham, pleaded not guilty but was convicted of a string of robbery offences, helping to steal more than �200,000 in nine months.

He joins six other gang members who admitted earlier this year to robbery offences, posing as firemen and using guns, knives and crowbars in a terrifying crime spree.

The gang included Romford men Joshua McEvilly, 29, of Hare Hall Lane, and Frank Nesbitt, 20, of Mildmay Road.

Also involved were ex-Met police officer Gary Griffiths, 42, of Babbington Road, Dagenham, Jason Stacey, 38, of Chitty’s Lane, Dagenham, Ben Garforth, 20, of Chadwell Heath Lane, Dagenham, Peter Henderson, 29, of Lymington Road, Dagenham.

An eighth man, fire fighter Russell Williams, 39, of Bury Green Road, Cheshunt, had also previously pleaded guilty to assisting an offender.

The group began their reign of terror in March last year with a number of cash-and-transit robberies. They then moved on to holding-up stores, often posing as fire fighters. Dressed in full uniform, the men would claim to be checking fire alarms. Once inside, they would pull out guns and force staff to hand over cash.

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But the scam came to an end on December 13 last year when they were pursued by police after stealing �400 from Harvey’s Food and Wine in Goodmayes, Lane, Dagenham.

Detective superintendent John Kielty, of the Flying Squad, said: “These men made a lucrative career of carrying out robberies and were a highly organised and violent team. They carefully planned their actions and targets using disguises and firearms during offences.”

They are due to be sentenced in January next year.