Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Leader of Ruthless Gang 'To Die in Jail' Trial without Jury Makes Legal History

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Leader of Ruthless Gang 'To Die in Jail' Trial without Jury Makes Legal History

Article excerpt

Byline: John-Paul

THE leader of an armed robbery gang wept yesterday as he learned he was likely to die in prison after being convicted by a judge in a historic trial without a jury.

Career criminal John Twomey, 62, was jailed for 20 years and six months at the Old Bailey for a pounds 1.75m raid on a Heathrow warehouse in February 2004.

The twice-married father-of-five raised a tattooed forearm and wiped away tears amid sobs from the public gallery before being taken down from the dock.

His barrister, John Aspinall QC, said: "It is a distinct prospect that he will serve the rest of his days in prison."

It has taken four trials to bring Twomey - who has serious heart problems - and three other robbers to justice.

In total, the cost to the public is estimated at more than pounds 25m - more than 14 times the amount stolen.

The third trial was stopped amid allegations of jury tampering and, under new laws, the Court of Appeal ordered a judge alone to hear the case, which began in January under Mr Justice Treacy.

It was the first serious criminal trial without a jury in England and Wales and described by the Crown Prosecution Service as a "benchmark" case.

Twomey, of Hampshire, was found guilty of robbery and a firearms charge alongside Glenn Cameron, 50, Barry Hibberd, 43, and Peter Blake, 57. Blake, who shot at one of 16 members of staff rounded up during the armed raid at the Menzies World Cargo warehouse, was also convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm and a further firearms charge. Because of his previous record of armed robbery he was given three life sentences, to run concurrently. Blake, of Notting Hill, west London, was told by the judge that he had led a "life of crime" and was ordered to serve at least 10 years and nine months in prison.

Football hooligan Hibberd, of Shepherd's Bush, London, was jailed for 17 years and six months, while Cameron, Twomey's brother-in-law and "loyal lieutenant", was given a 15-year sentence. …

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