Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ruthless & Dangerous, but Finally Behind Bars; ORGANISED CRIME GANG BEHIND A SPATE OF: TERRIFYING RAIDS IS SMASHED AFTER PROBE ACROSS NORTH OF ENGLAND

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ruthless & Dangerous, but Finally Behind Bars; ORGANISED CRIME GANG BEHIND A SPATE OF: TERRIFYING RAIDS IS SMASHED AFTER PROBE ACROSS NORTH OF ENGLAND

Article excerpt

Byline: ADAM JUPP

LEAVING a trail of terror behind them, armed villains staged a series of violent cash van robberies on Tyneside.

The "professional team" spent months carrying out surveillance on petrol stations and convenience stores before striking to net tens of thousands of pounds. Wielding axes, chainsaws and crowbars, they left security guards traumatised and wounded, as they made-off in flash cars they had stolen.

But the gang's campaign was brought to an end when they left a series of vital clues at the scene of a robbery at a suburban supermarket on Tyneside, which linked them to two further strikes.

Piecing together evidence including fingerprints, traces of DNA and CCTV footage, detectives went on to unravel a conspiracy spanning the entire North of England that had seen more than pounds 250,000 stolen over five years.

And today, the key players behind the operation are beginning lengthy jail terms after being convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery between January 2005 and 2010.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how teams of villains were assembled from a pool, mostly from Liverpool, in order to carry-out cash-in-transit robberies.

A "central figure" was axe-wielding Kabba Kamara, who by the age of 30 already has 20 criminal convictions, including one for escaping from a secure dock as he stood trial for armed robbery in Stafford, which he was ultimately cleared of.

Hulking Kamara, formerly of Smithdown Lane, Liverpool, was involved in the pounds 89,000 raid on the Spar store, in Monkseaton, which led to the gang being smashed, as well as the earlier strikes in nearby Howdon and Shiremoor, which netted more than pounds 100,000.

He admitted conspiracy to commit robbery, robbery and aggravated vehicle taking was jailed for 14 years, with a 20-year extended licence period.

One of Kamara's henchman was Dennis Fontenot, 37, a career criminal who made history by becoming the first person to be hit with an Asbo banning him from all pubs and bars for 10 years.

Fontenot, who also has previous convictions dating back to his childhood, including GBH, dealing in fake goods and burglary, was placed at the scene of the Monkseaton robbery, having left DNA on a car he hired days earlier. …

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