Smash-and-grab robbers jailed for Harold Hill heist

FOUR bungling crooks – one from Romford – were jailed for a total of 23 years following a thwarted cash-in-transit heist in Harold Hill.

Ricky Russell, 29, from Union Road, Romford, and his cohorts - Julian Bengura, 25, of Ivy Road, Walthamtow; Thomas Warrick, 19, of Playhouse Square, Harlow, Essex; and Jamie Gregory, 23, of Stour Road, Dagenham - wore hoods as they snatched a cashbox from a security guard outside Gallows Corner McDonald’s on August 27 last year.

But the gang had been spotted following other cash vans in Romford and Gidea Park the day before in a hire car which police traced to Russell - who had registered it in his name.

“It wasn’t the brightest thing in the world to do,” DCI Ian Corner of North East London Flying Squad told the Recorder. “We traced the car and when they carried out the act the next day were able to find them very, very quickly.”

Police arrested them and recovered the box which contained more than �18,500 near the A13.

The foursome had spent the night before the raid in the Travel Lodge Hotel, in Romford, where DCI Corner said it was “very likely” they had planned the heist.

Bengura, who has a previous conviction for cash-in-transit robbery, and Gregory were caught on CCTV laundering money from another smash-and-grab in Gidea Park at ticket machines in Harold Wood, Chadwell Heath, and Goodmayes train stations.

Most Read

The four men pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to rob between 26-27 August 2010, at Snaresbrook Crown Court on January 13.

Bengura and Gregory further admitted concealing criminal property.

Bengura, Warrick and Gregory were each sentenced to six year, and Russell to five.

DCI Corner said: “Youngsters like this are like a plague of locusts cruising the area looking for cash vans to target.

“The [police] detection rate is very good – the police and security teams have a very good relationship - so there are a lot of eyes and ears out there.

“This was good sentence and sends out a very clear message that if you are going to carry out this sort of crime, there is a very good chance you will get caught and you will be going to jail for a long time.”

He added: “Although they didn’t use weapons they kicked and punched the security guard and caused a lot of fear to the general public.”