Beckton man led gang in SAS-style robberies

SIX men face years behind bars after being convicted for a string of “SAS-style” robberies across London and three counties.

Among them were two from Beckton and included the alleged gang ringleader, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

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 they smashed their way into a building society in Holt and escaped with �81,000 in cash while on another 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 had also targeted car dealerships and had managed to escape from a Nissan garage in Bury St Edmunds with a 4x4 worth more than �40,000. The vehicle was later used to carry out further armed robberies.

The alleged ringleader, Danny Speed, 29, 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, also of Eisenhower Drive, who was convicted of four armed robberies. He had previously pleaded to one count of conspiracy to burgle.

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Mark Richards, 29, from Rainham, Essex, had previously pleaded guilty to three armed robberies and three counts of conspiracy to burgle while also convicted of robbery amounting to �500,000 in cash as well as stealing a significant number of high-performance vehicles, were Andrew McCracken, 30, who was convicted of three armed robberies; James Cook, 29, found guilty of one count of conspiracy to burgle, both from Dagenham, and Scott Guy, 36 of no fixed address, convicted of one armed robbery.

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

Detective Inspector Jason Hendy, of the Met’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 February 4.