Violent gang sent to prison

PUBLISHED: 16:31 21 December 2006 | UPDATED: 13:42 04 May 2010

SIX members of a violent gang who carried out more than 60 ram-raids and robberies across East Anglia - which included one in Soham - have been jailed for a total of 74 years. Barry Street, 22, led a gang of five travellers on a spate of brutal robberies

SIX members of a violent gang who carried out more than 60 ram-raids and robberies across East Anglia - which included one in Soham - have been jailed for a total of 74 years.

Barry Street, 22, led a gang of five travellers on a spate of brutal 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.

Gang members were not afraid to use violence, Ipswich Crown Court heard last week and 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, Rocky Buckley, 20, John Smith, 24, Stacey Smith, 21, Thomas Curtis, 24, John Curtis, 26 - who are all related - 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 as getaway vehicles.

Over 11 months they netted more than £500,000 in cash and property and caused in excess of £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 yesterday it was revealed that the gang had frittered away most of the money, leaving Judge Goodin only able to order that £9,000 be confiscated under the proceeds of crime act.

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.

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