Robbery gang jailed for 'ruthless and callous' raids

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Media captionCCTV shows robbers in action

Three men have been jailed for their part in a "ruthless and sophisticated" series of raids on banks, building societies, and shops.

Stuart Last, 29, and Richard Loveridge, 28, were each jailed for 17 years. Andrew Smith, 27, received 11 years.

Judge Sarah Munro QC said the robberies were "ruthless and callous".

Police said Last and Loveridge were responsible for more than 40 offences across Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Hampshire, and Surrey.

During a five-week trial, jurors at Winchester Crown Court heard they burgled homes, stole cars, and robbed shops.

In total they stole about £550,000 between August 2011 and January 2012.

'Pure greed'

The major investigation began after a Nationwide building society was robbed in Havant in November 2011.

Security staff were refilling the cash machine when men smashed their way in with a sledgehammer and stole £50,000.

When two other banks were robbed in Fareham and Farnborough police began to link the crimes.

The judge said: "They involved terrifying experiences for the staff and others who witnessed these offences.

"The combination of your disguised appearance and violent threats must have had a lasting effect on your victims."

She said the offences were "meticulously" planned to avoid detection by the police.

She added: "You regarded yourselves as invincible. You were prepared to embark or continue on a life of crime. The motivation of you was pure greed."

A holdall found at Loveridge's home in Slough which contained gloves, jackets and commercially produced balaclavas was also shown to jurors.

The prosecution described it as a "classic robber's kit".

'Forensically aware'

Simon Massey, senior crown prosecutor for the Complex Casework Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex, said: "Those three men took every possible anti-detection measure.

"They were forensically aware... they used high performance and high value stolen cars with stolen number plates and they based their criminal activity in a rural location at Longfield Farm, near Windsor.

"However, they did not know that their night-time comings and goings were captured on CCTV over a period of two months."

He added that bank staff were "put in fear by the defendants".

Last, of Filmer Road, Windsor, and Loveridge, of Ditton Road, Slough, were sentenced to 14 years for conspiracy to commit robbery, and three years for conspiracy to commit burglary.

Loveridge will also serve a concurrent eight month sentence for the production of cannabis.

Smith, of Montrose Avenue, Slough, was sentenced to 11 years for conspiracy to commit robbery to run consecutively with a 14-year sentence after a conviction of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and assault occasioning actual bodily harm in December.

A fourth defendant, Lee Fitzgerald, 38, of Perrycroft, Windsor, was cleared of all charges.

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