Issued on 18/4/19 at 5:53 p.m.
Four members of a gang have been jailed for a total of 30 years after their plot to commit armed robbery was foiled by police.
Two of the would-be robbers, Faruk Suleman, 48, and 44-year-old Craig Whetstone were convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery after a trial at Leicester Crown Court in August.
The remaining two men, Paul Hayes, 42, and 61-year-old Steven Fullerton pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to the charges of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Today (Thursday 19 April) at Leicester Crown Court, they were sentenced to the following:
- Suleman, of Uppingham Road, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for conspiracy to commit armed robbery and sentenced to a further 18 months for fraud and drugs offences.
- Whetstone, of Stonesby Avenue, was sentenced to five years.
- Hayes, of Hebden Drive, was sentenced to five years
- Fullerton, of Tedworth Green, also pleaded guilty to possession of a Section 5 firearm (CS spray) and was sentenced to six years and four months.
A fifth man was found not guilty of conspiracy to robbery.
The gang had set off from the East Midlands during the late afternoon of 26 April this year heading south down the M1 in a Volkswagen Golf. They then took the M69 and the A46 before joining the M40 southbound. Shortly after 8pm they stopped briefly at the Welcome Break Service Station before continuing their journey.
Unbeknown to them, an intelligence-led operation was underway and their plans and movements on that day were being observed. And as they joined the A404 at the junction with the M4 motorway, armed officers made their move, intercepting the Golf and bringing it to a controlled stop.
All five men were arrested at the scene and a search of the vehicle was carried out.
Inside the Golf officers found balaclavas, gloves, cable ties, tape, a hammer, a baseball bat and a number of other weapons including two imitation firearms and a fully-functioning stun gun torch which, despite its insignia, was not a police-issued weapon.
Searches were subsequently carried out at the home addresses of all five men, and further items were seized including more firearms, a stab vest, and an incapacitant spray.
Investigator Emily Sharpe, from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), said: “These men were determined to commit a very serious crime.
“Despite extensive enquiries, we have been unable to identify who their intended victim was. That said, I am confident that the diligent work carried out by the investigation team and the actions of the officers involved in the policing operation prevented someone somewhere from being the victim of a very serious attack.
“The outcome of this case should serve as a warning to anyone intent on committing similar crimes that you will be caught and you will be brought to justice.”