‘SAS-style’ gang, inlcuding Rainham man, face jail

A GANG of men, including one from Rainham, who dressed up as “SAS-style” soldiers during a string of armed robberies are facing lengthy jail terms.

Decked in black uniforms, replete with balaclavas, and armed with machetes, firearms and Tasers guns, they raided building societies and businesses in east London, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

During one raid members of the gang smashed their way into a building society in Holt, Norfolk, escaping with �81,000 in cash.

One startled witness said they looked “similar to the SAS”, swooping on the quaint market town.

On another occasion they fired a Taser at a guard as he delivered cash to a supermarket in Kings Lynn, before making off with �21,000.

Other members of the gang had targeted car dealerships and had managed to escape from a Nissan garage in Bury St Edmunds with a Nissan Navara 4x4 worth more than �40,000. The vehicle was later used to carry out further armed robberies.

Mark Richards, 29, of South Hall Drive, Rainham, admitted his role in the operation at Snaresbrook Crown Court on August 13 last year.

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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, as well as stealing a significant number of high-performance vehicles.

The alleged ringleader of the plots, Danny Speed, 29, of, Beckton, east London, 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, of Beckton, who was 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, 30, of Dagenham, east London convicted of three armed robberies between 2007 and 2008.

James Cook, 29, Dagenham east London convicted of one count of conspiracy to burgle in 2009.

Scott Guy, 36, of no fixed address, was convicted of one armed robbery in 2009.

Two further men, James Sweeney, 30 years, of Laindon, Essex, and Aaron Wiltshire, 23, Dagenham, east London, were acquitted of committing an armed robbery in Essex in 2009.

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

Det Insp Jason Hendy, of the Flying Squad, said: “The 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.”