Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008 14:09 UK

Four guilty over armed bank raids

The dramatic moment Mark Nunes threatens security guard Michael Player with a gun
Mark Nunes threatens security guard Michael Player with a gun

Four men have been convicted over a series of armed robberies across southern England, which ended when police shot dead two gang members.

The defendants, from London, conspired to organise or execute up to 21 robberies on banks or cash box delivery guards, netting 500,000.

Their 18-month campaign ended when the gang leaders were shot dead by armed officers outside a bank in Hampshire.

The men, who denied involvement, will be sentenced on 31 October.

Terence Wallace, 26, of Raynes Park, Adrian Johnson, 28, from Streatham Hill, Leroy Wilkinson, 29, from Streatham, and and Victor Iniodu, 34, from Tooting, all denied conspiracy to rob between April 2006 and September 2007.

A jury at Kingston Crown Court in London found them guilty after three days of deliberation.

The court heard how the gang's activities were eventually stopped when gang leader Mark Nunes was shot dead as he held a gun to a security guard's head outside the HSBC branch in Chandler's Ford.

Clockwise from top left Johnson, Wilkinson, Iniodu and Wallace
Clockwise from top left Johnson, Wilkinson, Iniodu and Wallace

A second man, Andrew Markland, 36, was also shot and killed during the raid.

During the trial, the prosecution said mobile phone records of the gang members placed them at the scene of a series of bank raids, exactly one week before the crimes, or during the crimes themselves.

The prosecution also said the phone records showed defendants had all been in contact with Mr Nunes.

A total of 21 robberies were committed by the gang in Gloucester, Swindon, Bristol, Bath, Colchester, Tilehurst in Berkshire, Cherry Hinton near Cambridge, Oxford, Croydon, Ipswich and Chandler's Ford.

Johnson was also convicted of a separate robbery committed last November after Nunes was shot dead.

But he was acquitted of possessing a gas canister and found not guilty of possessing a gun after the jury could not agree a verdict.

Mark Nunes (l) and Andrew Markland were shot dead by police
Mark Nunes (l) and Andrew Markland were shot dead by police

Prior to the start of the trial, three men - Leroy Hall, Leon McKenzie and Brian Henry - pleaded guilty to being part of the gang.

After Friday's verdict, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said it would not prosecute the Flying Squad firearms officers over the deaths.

IPCC commissioner Deborah Glass said: "Our investigation looked into the actions of the officers firing the shots at Mark Nunes and Andrew Markland as well as the planning, decision making and implementation of the police operation.

"From our investigation, although there are issues around the implementation of the operation that will be explored further at the inquest, there is no evidence to indicate that officers may have committed any criminal or misconduct offences.

"This has been an extensive inquiry and we will pass our report to the coroner."

Det Insp Terry Wilson, from the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad, said the court verdict demonstrated the ability of the Flying Squad to convict those responsible for armed robberies.

Raid scene
Clothes lay strewn where the armed robbers were shot

But he said: "The results do not though overshadow the fact that, during the commission of one offence, two men were fatally shot by police officers.

"The death of any person as a result of police action is deeply regrettable.

"The fact we exist, along with today's convictions, should serve as a warning to all those who would consider committing such an offence.

"The fact that majority of the offences have taken place outside of London did not limit our ability to investigate."

Among the gang's many victims were the security guards Michael Player and his colleague Andy Wilson, who were threatened in Chandler's Ford.

"It's the first time I have ever looked down the barrel of a gun. I was wondering if I would be able to move if I heard a click," said Mr Player, 54.

"Our families were in a total mess. It was days of upset.

"It's amazing the physical damage it does to people. Even now the slightest thing - a report of an incident - can set my wife off."

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