Two men have been jailed for life after they committed a series of violent armed robberies using sawn-off shotguns.
The men were trapped by the Flying Squad after they were spotted observing the Tesco superstore in Sandy. They were planning to rob the store, Kingston Crown Court was told.
Nicholas Wordsworth, 43 of Fiona Court, Enfield and Mustafa Murteza, 48 of Tollington Road, N7 were sentenced to life imprisonment on Friday, 10 February. Wordsworth was ordered to serve a minimum term of seven years and nine months; Murteza was ordered to serve a minimum term of seven years and five months.
The offences took place across London and the south-east of England between February 2016 and October 2016.
The pair were arrested on 18 November last year in Sandy, following a proactive investigation by the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad, which was also supported by officers from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Thames Valley and Sussex Police.
Officers linked together seven armed cash-in-transit robberies that had been committed across London, Essex, Kent, Sussex, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire during 2016. In each incident, the suspects wore dark clothing, face coverings and used sawn-off shotguns to threaten security guards to steal cash boxes they were carrying. The suspects would make off in a vehicle, which they then set alight.
Detectives from the Flying Squad, with assistance from colleagues from other police forces from the Home Counties, identified Wordsworth and Merteza as suspects and further enquiries traced them to Bedfordshire. With the support of armed officers, they stopped both men in a Honda Accord displaying false vehicle registration plates. The pair were found in possession of a loaded sawn-off shotgun, a gas-powered revolver, several rounds of ammunition, a stun-gun, a bullet-proof vest, a large hunting knife, masks and a full petrol can.
Detective Inspector Mark Bedford from the Met’s Flying Squad said: “These sentences mean that two extremely violent and dangerous criminals are now behind bars for a considerable time.
“These were well-planned, violent armed robberies during which both Wordsworth and Murteza terrorised security guards, as well as members of the public going about their daily business, and left them fearing for their lives. In my view, it was only through luck and good fortune that nobody was seriously injured or worse.
“This has been a lengthy and complex investigation spanning the south-east of England. It was only through the meticulous work of officers from the Flying Squad supported by colleagues from the Met’s Specialist Firearms Command, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, TVP and Sussex police forces which ensured these individuals are no longer free to continue committing these violent offences.
“This operation reflects the Flying Squad’s commitment to ensure those criminals engaged in this type of violent commercial robbery are identified and brought to justice.”
Summary of offences:
Both Wordsworth and Murteza pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob; possession of a firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life; possession of an imitation firearm with intent; and possession of a prohibited weapon.
Wordsworth admitted carrying out seven offences, as well as planning to commit a further robbery in Sandy. Murteza admitted his involvement in five offences as well as planning to commit the robbery in Sandy.