Jail for Dagenham leader of gang which robbed shops dressed as firefighters

The mastermind behind a team of robbers who dressed as firefighters to hold shopkeepers at gunpoint has been jailed for 18 years.

Darren Lloyd, 35, of Pettit’s Road, Dagenham, led the gang who repeatedly raided security van deliveries around east London using false number plates on stolen cars.

The robbers, including former Metropolitan policeman Pc Gary Griffiths, of Babington Road, Dagenham, were being watched by Flying Squad detectives as they staked out targets throughout summer and autumn 2010.

By December the gang changed their strategy, deploying a robber inside shops, dressed in the distinctive maroon firefighter’s uniform and yellow helmet, as a “ruse” to gain access to safes and store rooms.

The robberies were clustered around Dagenham and Chadwell Heath.

Lloyd recruited London fireman Russell Williams, 39, of Bury Green Road, Cheshunt, to supply uniforms to Griffiths, 42, who wore the kit and armed himself with a pistol to threaten staff and demand cash.

Sentencing Lloyd to 18 years in prison on Friday, Judge David Paget QC told him his crimes had demonstrated “sophisticated planning and persistent offending”.

Most Read

Lloyd was arrested by armed officers in December 2010 as he scrambled from the wreckage of a high-powered Volvo getaway car, having crashed into a garden during a police chase.

He was convicted of 12 counts of conspiracy to rob and two of having an imitation firearm with intent. He had earlier admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply.

Among the places the gang targeted were Premier Foods, Becontree Avenue and Reels Arcade, Green Lane, both Dagenham.

Williams admitted assisting an offender. Griffiths, Joshua McEvilley, Ben Garforth, Jason Stacey, Frank Nesbitt and Peter Henderson all also admitted their involvement in the conspiracy.

They will all be sentenced on January 27.