Feb 22 2013 By Jack Griffith
THREE armed robbers who ambushed cash delivery officers making stops in Hillingdon, and stole more than £100,000 have been jailed for a total of 48 and a half years.
The men used pitch forks, knives and baseball bats to scare cash-in-transit staff into handing over money, before making their pre-planned getaway.
George French, of Lily Drive, West Drayton; Stephen Phillips, of Oxford Road, Gerrards Cross; and Anthony Durham, of Petts Wood, Kent, were convicted of conspiracy to rob earlier this month, after a five month trial at Kingston Crown Court.
CCTV from three of the four raids, shown to the court before the gang were sentenced today (Friday), showed how quickly and ruthlessly the gang, dressed in high visibility jackets, executed their plan, with each terrifying robbery taking little more than a minute.
The first of the violent thefts took place at the Pavillions Shopping Centre, in High Street, Uxbridge, on June 28 2007, and the trio struck again just over a year later, in July 2008 at Marks and Spencers, in Sunbury Cross Centre.
It was nearly two years before their third robbery, at Tesco, in Glencoe Road, Hayes, on May 14 2010.
The gang ended their spree later that year, at Waitrose, in Kingsend, Ruislip, on November 26.
Barnes Flying Squad working alongside Surrey Police officers linked the incidents and launched an investigation, trawling through hours of CCTV to identify the group.
Four days before the Sunbury robbery, the men were caught on camera without disguises doing 'reconnaissance' and checking out the scene.
They were finally arrested and charged in July 2011.
George French, 59, was sentenced to 15 years.
Anthony Durham, 60, was jailed for 17 years, and Stephen Phillips, 53, for 16 and a half years.
Speaking after the sentence, Detective Sergeant Hywel Davies, of the Flying Squad, said: "This was a very professional outfit who knew how to try and prevent being identified by officers.
"It was only through the meticulous work of the Flying Squad that ensured this group are not free to plan their next robbery.
"It was fortunate that no one was seriously injured."