September 2 2014 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Senior reporter
Thursday, April 3, 2014
An armed robber who was foiled trying to hold up a bank in Wanstead High Street has been jailed.
Wayne Colligan, 43, of Daniel Close, Chafford Hundred was sentenced to life in prison at the Old Bailey today and David Cope, 49, of Hewett Road in Becontree got six years.
They had both pleaded guilty to their parts in a bank robbery in Welwyn Garden City and Wanstead.
Colligan robbed a branch of Halifax in Welwyn Garden City in January 2013, smashing through the glass front door in a Nissan Micra and threatening staff with a gun.
He got away with £68,000.
The pair planned a similar heist in Wanstead on May 8 2013 but did not realise that armed police were coincidentally at the scene on a pre-planned operation.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said Flying Squad officers were suspicious when they saw Colligan pull up outside HSBC, in Wanstead High Street, with wooden railway sleeper sticking out the back of his van.
Police surrounded the van, shot out its tyres and grabbed Colligan before he could enter the bank.
The dramatic arrest shocked dozens of passers-by on their way to the shops.
Ricardo Berenger, 42, of Wanstead, said: “I was just waiting for the bank to open and all of a sudden, I heard loud bangs.
“The police just came out of nowhere. It was so scary.
“The police just came out and went into the vehicle. They were shouting and they all had guns.”
He was wearing two layers of clothing, two pairs of gloves and had a loaded Russian Baikal pistol, balaclava and a tartan laundry bag for the cash.
Further investigation found Colligan had conspired with Cope, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit two robberies.
Colligan pleaded guilty to six offences and not guilty to a further 10, which will remain on file.
Speaking at the Old Bailey, Justice Cooke described him as a “dangerous career criminal”.
Det Con John Conner, of the Flying Squad, said he hoped the sentences would be a deterrent to others.
He added: “The two criminals involved in these robberies showed scant consideration for the frightened staff and customers, who genuinely feared for their lives when confronted with a firearm.”
See our gallery of pictures from the police operation here.
A 14-year-old girl from Chigwell, who went missing almost two weeks ago, has been found, Essex Police said.