Three men have been sentenced to a total of 25 years for cash in transit robberies across South England, including Plymouth.

The three criminals have been sentenced today (Monday 22 April 2013) following a series of audacious robberies, where they stole in excess of £68,000.

Each was charged and pleaded guilty to conspiring together with other persons to commit robbery between 8 January and 2 March 2012.

The "brazen" robbery in Plymouth saw a Loomis security van that had parked in Masterman Road targeted, just to the right of a Betfred bookmaker, where an ATM was situated at the junction of Devonport Road.

The courier had just left the van carrying £10,000 in a cash box and reached the junction with Devonport Road when he was approached by a male and attacked. Demands were shouted for the cash box and the attacker placed his hand inside the courier’s visor pushing him backwards. The attacker ran along Masterman Road and made his getaway in a waiting vehicle.

Ricky Turner, 25 (22/01/1998) of Queens Road, Peckham, SE15, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment. He was further sentenced for attempting to rob a Post Office cash delivery in Kent on 3 May 2012.

Robert Ampomah, 26 (27/11/1986) of Lucey Way, Peckham, SE16, was sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

Jonathan Cope, 35 (27/06/1977) of Chandler Way, Peckham, SE15, was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. Cope was additionally sentenced for handling stolen goods when he drove Turner away from the scene of an attempted robbery in Kent on 3 May 2012.

The three were convicted at Kingston Crown Court following a proactive investigation - codenamed Operation Paros led by the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad.

The court heard how the gang would arrange to meet in Peckham south east London and would travel as far as Kent and Dorset in stolen vehicles to target cash in transit couriers, using violence to enable them to steal vast amounts of cash.

At approximately 21:25hrs on January 10 2012 a grey Vauxhall Insignia which had been stolen during a residential burglary in New Malden in November 2011 and bearing false number plates pulled up alongside a G4S security van in High Street, New Malden, KT3.

Two men got out of the car wearing face coverings and gloves and used a sledgehammer to smash through the glass windows of a Santander Bank to gain access. A third male remained in the stolen car ready to make a hasty get away.

Once inside one of the robbers used a screwdriver to prise open cassettes at the rear of the open ATM machines while the second male used a claw hammer to violently strike the courier twice on the arm whilst demanding he unlock and remove the bars from the back of the ATM.

Both robbers ran outside dropping some of the cash stolen on the pavement before jumping into the getaway car which made off at speed with £16,140 cash.

Shortly after the robbery the getaway vehicle was set alight with petrol just miles from the scene. All three fled the burning vehicle.

In their haste to get away a Thinsulate glove and piece of stocking material were dropped at the scene of the robbery. The other glove and another piece of the stocking material were found close to where the getaway vehicle was set alight.

Robert Ampomah’s DNA was found on discarded items at the scene of the arson which in turn were linked back to the earlier robbery.

Nine days later the gang struck again, this time they were in a stolen black Audi A4 displaying false number plates, stolen in a residential burglary in November 2011.

This time the robbers were aiming to target a Nationwide Bank in Christchurch, High Street, Dorset, BH23. A G4S replenishment crew had just parked up outside the bank at around 22:45hrs. On their fourth delivery into the bank a man wearing a balaclava followed the guard into the bank and charged at him with a claw hammer. The guard dropped the cash box containing £16,000 and the robber quickly picked it up. He ran across the road to the waiting car, which made off at haste.

A short distance from the scene of the robbery the getaway car was found abandoned with balaclava and hammer. DNA later linked Turner to this incident.

Following an investigation by police they established that the getaway car was driven by Carl Morling, 44 from Bournemouth who was sentenced to five years in prison at Bournemouth Crown Court in June 2012.

Members of the gang went on to commit offences on 20 February 2012 in Swanley Kent, BR8 and on 1 March 2012 in Peckham, London, SE15. On both occasions they targeted Loomis couriers working at ATM machines. £26,000 cash was stolen during the offence on 1March 2012.

Following an extensive investigation by the Flying Squad they were able to use mobile phone data to prove that the three had travelled across the south east and south west of England to either scope out potential locations to commit the robberies or to actually carry them out themselves.

DC Morrey said: "I am pleased at today's sentencing which means three very dangerous men are now behind bars. These were violent armed robberies during which innocent members of staff were terrorised and genuinely feared for their lives.

"Anyone who is willing to inflict such fear for their own material gain deserves to spend a significant amount of time behind bars. These men now face considerable terms of imprisonment where they will have plenty of time to think about the consequences of their actions.

“This has been a lengthy and complex investigation spanning across the south of England involving a number of other forces, and the crimes committed have not only affected the lives of Londoners but those further afield”.