May 24 2013 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Reporter
Friday, December 7, 2012
A Hainault man has been jailed as part of an organised criminal gang who staged a “sophisticated” heist of gold and silver bullion in Belgium.
Gary Cummings, 51, of Anne Way, was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy to steal at the Old Bailey on Friday.
He was jailed with five other members of the gang, including 58-year-old David Chatwood, of Brentwood, who was sentenced to two years and nine months despite a letter from his stepdaughters, The Only Way Is Essex stars Sam and Billie Faiers, asking Judge Richard Hone QC to be lenient.
The court heard how Cummings faked a violent robbery in Belgium as part of the elaborate plot to steal the 25 kilos of gold and 150 kilos of silver grain, worth an estimated £1million.
He “robbed” co-conspirator Brian Mulcahy, of Brentwood, of the bullion in Belgium on October 4 2011 with John Corley, of Biggin Hill, and Matthew Middleton, of Buckhurst Hill.
When police found international lorry driver Mulcahy locked in the back of his firm’s security van, he appeared to be the victim of a hijacking.
But during the investigation by the Met, Belgian Police and Europol, the plot began to unravel.
Chatwood had organised the heist with Corley.
They put together the team of seven experienced criminals and faked the robbery of Mulcahy’s van.
His lorry route took him to Belgium on a regular basis, providing him with ample opportunity to locate the best place to carry out the theft.
Cummings travelled to Belgium with Corley and Middleton in a coach from London Victoria, with golf clubs as cover.
After carrying out the fake hijacking, they took the gold and silver to hotel rooms booked by logistics man Stanley Rose, of Brentwood.
David Gale, of Roydon, was to oversee the viewing and testing of the bullion.
But on October 13, Belgian police in a co-ordinated joint operation with the MPS Special Projects Team, swooped on Rose in Antwerp.
They uncovered nearly all of the gold and silver in a search of his two rented rooms and caught Gale on his way to the coast.
Both were later extradited to the UK by Belgian authorities.
Meanwhile, officers from the MPS Special Projects Team simultaneously arrested the remaining gang members including Mulcahy who was arrested in the UK having returned from Belgium.
Det Sup Int Steve Ratcliffe said: “This was a very well planned and sophisticated criminal venture which was foiled by the tenacity and hard work of the officers under my command and the excellent working relationship they had with Europol which made the fast time arrest of suspects in Belgium possible.”
All members of the gang were sentenced to jail for up to six years for conspiracy to steal, apart from Middleton, who was found guilty and will be sentenced at a later date.
Police swooped on the homeless, grabbing sleeping bags and food parcels donated by the public, in co-ordinated raids around the borough.