Ageing robbers jailed for `vicious' shooting of guard jailed

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The Independent Online
Two vicious career criminals with links to the Kray and Richardson gangs were given long jail sentences yesterday for a robbery in which a security guard was deliberately shot.

At an age when the Recorder of London, Sir Lawrence Verney, said most people were beginning or contemplating retirement, Christopher Bulbrook, 60, and Anthony Keegan, 61, are starting jail sentences of 15 and 18 years respectively.

Their victim, 44-year-old Andrew Wallis, had come to the Old Bailey to see them sentenced as part of his therapy but was unable to face the ordeal and had to leave.

The court was told he still suffers pain from where Keegan blasted him in the leg with a sawn-off shotgun.

He can only work at desk jobs, will never be able to work again as a security guard and still needs counselling.

A witness to the robbery and shooting, Alice Whitlock, 78, was so disgusted by Keegan's gratuitous violence in shooting Mr Willis, a Security Express guard - even though he offered no resistance - "that she hit the gunman with her handbag and called him a bastard", said John Kelsey Fry, for the prosecution.

Keegan pushed her out of the way and ran to a getaway car driven by Bulbrook. Seconds later it was rammed by police officers who had been watching them for several days.

Inside the car were two sawn-off shotguns and over pounds 10,000 from the robbery outside an Iceland food store in Bermondsey, east London.

As the grey-haired pair were led to the cells, Detective Sergeant John Swinfield of the Flying Squad said: "They are both highly dangerous individuals. As a result of their incarceration a lot of security guards out there are safer. They are vicious, armed career robbers."

He said he was glad the judge had rejected "the smokescreen they attempted to put up" by implying they were lured into the robbery by an insider. DS Swinfield said this attempt to implicate Mr Willis was a total fabrication and added insult to the injuries he suffered.

The men admitted robbery and firearms offences and Keegan also admitted wounding. A charge against Bulbrook's 58-year-old wife, June, of conspiracy to rob - which she denied - was dropped. Police saw her hand over to her husband a red holdall allegedly containing the sawn off shotguns. But Bulbrook told police: "I made her do it, she had no choice, she is not involved."

Mr Kelsey Fry said Flying Squad officers watching Bulbrook's home in Bermondsey saw Keegan - on the run from a five-year drug sentence - visit several times. They followed as the pair reconnoitred the nearby shopping centre.

In November last year Keegan struck as Mr Willis left the Iceland store after collecting the cash. He pushed aside Mrs Whitlock and her husband, spun the guard around, grabbed the bag and then deliberately and without provocation shot him in the leg.

The pair, both with similar robbery convictions and a crime history dating back to the 1950s, were told by the judge he rejected their assertions an insider was involved and the gunshot was intended only as a warning. He said they knew the guns were loaded and to be used if they thought fit.