Page last updated at 14:35 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 15:35 UK

Profile: Paul Allen

A man has been jailed for his part in Britain's biggest robbery. Paul Allen was a key member of the gang that stole £53m from the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent, in February 2006.

PAUL ALLEN
Paul Allen being led into court by Moroccan police
Jun 1978 - Born in Plumstead, south-east London
22 Feb 2006 - Took part in Securitas robbery in Tonbridge, Kent
26 Feb 2006 - Fled to Amsterdam, and on to Morocco
Jun 2006 - Arrested, along with Lee Murray, in Rabat, Morocco
Jan 2008 - Extradited from Morocco
Jan 2009 - Hung jury at Old Bailey trial. Retrial ordered
Sep 2009 - Pleaded guilty on the eve of his trial at Woolwich Crown Court
Oct 2009 - Jailed for 18 years

Paul Allen's barrister, Ian Glen QC, appeared to have pulled off an impossible feat when - in January this year - an Old Bailey jury were unable to reach a verdict in his robbery and kidnap trial.

Detectives and journalists who covered the trial were flabbergasted.

On the eve of his retrial, with the prosecution threatening to bring to bear even more artillery, Allen threw the towel in and pleaded guilty.

When it came to telling his side of the story in the witness box, Allen's account had sounded unlikely.

He did not seek to challenge the fact that fellow cage-fighter Lee Murray had masterminded the robbery in February 2006 and he also admitted to being Murray's best friend.

But he claimed his pal had never once mentioned the robbery plan to him and said he had travelled to Morocco, via the Netherlands, in complete ignorance.

He said: "We went to Amsterdam because it had great Thai boxing training. Then we drove through Spain to Morocco."

Mr Glen asked: "Was it a surprise that Lee wanted you to go there?"

"No. He had a few projects. It was a good offer. He said, 'Do what you do for me, but in Morocco'," replied Allen.

"What was he going to Morocco to do?" asked Mr Glen.

Arrested

"Real estate projects, buying and selling properties... and also for the training, which was good," he replied.

Murray and Allen were arrested together at a shopping mall in the Moroccan city of Rabat in June 2006 and were held in jail for months, accused of resisting arrest and drugs offences.

Was Paul Allen the robber dubbed Hoodie?
Police had claimed Allen was the robber nicknamed "Hoodie"

Murray could claim Moroccan citizenship through his father and thus escaped extradition, but Allen was sent back to Britain in January this year.

Leaving behind his girlfriend and three young children in Britain to spend four months holed up in Morocco with Murray was just one part of the Allen's story that did not make any sense, unless he had been part of the robbery gang.

Prosecutor Sir John Nutting QC put the 30-year-old under pressure during cross examination.

Allen denied being the robber nicknamed "Hoodie" by police because of the clothing he wore during the raid.

He admitted buying a miniature surveillance camera used by inside man Ermir Hysenaj to film inside the depot and he admitted buying a Vauxhall Vectra which was later mocked up to look like a police car.

He also accepted he had gone to make-up artist Michelle Hogg's flat, where she was making prosthetic disguises for the robbers.

But Allen then claimed he had just been following orders from Murray and had no idea of the robbery plan.

Yes, maybe he did [deceive me]. I wasn't too pleased when I ended up in that Moroccan hellhole
Paul Allen

Sir John said of the visits to Miss Hogg's flat: "Why would Lee Murray ask you, an innocent man, to go to an address he would want to keep secret from everyone except the conspirators?"

"I don't know," replied Allen. "I'm very angry with him. I've been away from my family for 26 months [because of him]."

"So Lee Murray deceived you throughout?" asked Sir John.

"Yes, maybe he did. I wasn't too pleased when I ended up in that Moroccan hellhole," he replied.

Sir John kept up the pressure as Allen rolled his eyes and repeatedly muttered: "I don't know."

Allen had no answer as Sir John pointed out the holes in his story and highlighted the mobile phone evidence that placed him in the middle of the conspiracy.

Lies

Allen tried to explain why he was in key places at key moments.

Why was he in Herne Bay on the night that depot manager Colin Dixon's home came under surveillance by the gang? Allen said he had probably been selling steroids to a doorman he had known who lived there.

Why did he go to the home of co-conspirator Stuart Royle? Allen replied that he had been buying stolen gym machines from him.

He said he and Murray had grown up together on neighbouring estates in Plumstead, went to school together and he had later worked as Murray's "gopher".

"It wasn't a nine-to-five job. He would ring me in the morning or vice versa and I would do all sorts of chores for him and we'd train together," said Allen.

But the jury were unable to reach a verdict and Allen's guilty plea on the eve of his retrial came as a shock.

He has now been jailed for 18 years and will have plenty of time to consider his friend's role in his predicament.



Print Sponsor


THE SECURITAS ROBBERY

LATEST NEWS
PROFILES OF ROBBERS
 
BACKGROUND FEATURES
Lee Murray is believed to be Stopwatch The 'mastermind'
How did the man behind the robbery end up in Morocco?
NEWS FROM PREVIOUS TRIALS
 
IN PICTURES
VIDEO REPORTS


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific