Ram raiders from Wisbech jailed

PUBLISHED: 12:13 14 December 2006 | UPDATED: 19:53 01 June 2010

Rocky Curtis, bottom right, who admitted banking proceeds from the raids with, clockwise from bottom centre, Thomas Curtis, Stacey Smith, Barry Street, John Curtis and John Smith

Rocky Curtis, bottom right, who admitted banking proceeds from the raids with, clockwise from bottom centre, Thomas Curtis, Stacey Smith, Barry Street, John Curtis and John Smith

SIX members of a violent gang - four of them from Wisbech- who carried out more than 60 ram-raids and robberies across East Anglia were jailed for a total of 74 years. Barry Street, 22, led a gang of five travellers on a spate of brutal and terrifying ro

SIX members of a violent gang - four of them from Wisbech- who carried out more than 60 ram-raids and robberies across East Anglia were jailed for a total of 74 years.

Barry Street, 22, led a gang of five travellers on a spate of brutal and terrifying robberies at village shops and post offices across the region, threatening staff and witnesses with weapons including sawn-off shotguns, sledgehammers, ice axes and baseball bats.

"These men instigated a reign of terror, using violence of frightening and unprecedented levels in a string of serious robberies," said the man who helped track them down, Det Chief Inspector George Barr.

"They will now be off the streets and no longer a threat to the public for many years to come."

The gang were not afraid to use violence, and in one robbery at Fakenham, were captured on CCTV holding guns to the heads of two shoppers in a ruthless attempt to gain money.

On Wednesday at Ipswich Crown Court, Judge David Goodin described the gang's actions as criminality of the highest level, saying it struck fear into the hearts of ordinary people blighting many of their lives forever.

Between June 2004 and 2005 the group - Street, of Mildenhall, Rocky Buckley, 20, of Willingham and John Smith, 24, Stacey Smith, 21, Thomas Curtis, 24, John Curtis, 26 - who are all related and all from Kirkham's Lane, Wisbech- carried out a spate of ram-raids, armed robberies and break-ins, deliberately targeting rural communities where they knew policing levels were low.

In the days leading to an offence, the gang stole cars to order, using 4x4s for the ram-raids and high performance cars such as Subarus as getaway vehicles.

Over 11 months they netted more than more than £500,000 in cash and property and caused in excess £500,000 of damage, hitting a number of rural towns and villages including Dereham, Fakenham, Thursford, Fincham, Soham, and Bungay.

At an earlier hearing Street and five of his co-defendants each admitted a number of offences including conspiracy to commit robbery with a firearm, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, conspiracy to burgle, conspiracy to steal, conspiracy to steal a motor vehicle and money laundering offences.

Buckley, maintained he had never taken part in any of the armed robberies, but was found guilty of conspiracy to commit robbery with a firearm following a two-week trial.

A seventh man, Rocky Curtis, 19, was also in the dock after admitting banking more than £80,000 of the gang's stolen cash.

But it was revealed that the gang had frittered away the majority of the money, leaving Judge Goodin only able to order £9,000 be confiscated under the proceeds of crime act.

Judge Goodin said: "This was a gang that each of you were members of, but I don't suppose you were the only members.

"You targeted small shops and post offices in the eastern counties, serving the needs of a significant proportion of local residents and to your advantage in lightly policed areas.

"None of it took very long, you were in and out in minutes so highly organised was your operation. You had a look-out, a crowd-control soldier, there to discourage involvement by the public, a getaway driver.

"You were invariably masked and armed men who struck terror into the hearts of witnesses and victims alike. The lives of so many ordinary people have been blighted forever."

The six members of the gang directly involved in the robberies were each jailed for between 16 and 10 years - Buckley,16 years, Street, 14 years, Thomas Curtis, 12 years, John Curtis and John Smith, 11 years and Stacey Smith, 10 years.

For his part in banking the money, Rocky Curtis, of Christchurch, was ordered to complete a 200 hour community punishment order.


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