£53m raid mastermind given longer sentence

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The Independent Online

A martial arts expert who masterminded the £53 million Securitas robbery has had his jail term increased from 10 to 25 years in Morocco, police said today.

Cage fighter Lee Murray was unsuccessful in an appeal against his 10-year jail sentence during a hearing in Rabat yesterday.

But prosecutors who argued that his original sentence was too lenient had their appeal upheld and Murray was handed an extra 15 years behind bars.

The sentence was for his role co-ordinating the audacious raid at the cash depot in Tonbridge, Kent, on February 21 2006.

A Kent Police spokesman said: "We have been informed that during an appeal in Rabat, Lee Murray had an appeal against his sentence dismissed.

"Prosecution, however, had their appeal upheld regarding the previous sentence being too lenient.

"Lee Murray has been given a 25-year sentence for his involvement in the Tonbridge robbery.

"He was previously sentenced to 10 years imprisonment."

In June last year, the Moroccan authorities refused to extradite Murray, originally from Sidcup, south east London, after establishing his Moroccan nationality.

Since then detectives worked closely with their overseas colleagues to ensure Murray does not escape justice.

He was held in prison since his arrest at a shopping centre several months after the raid and has already served time for drug-related offences.

In October last year, Murray's trusted lieutenant Paul Allen was jailed for 18 years for his part in the robbery.

Allen, from Chatham, Kent, was sentenced after admitting charges of conspiracy to rob, kidnap and possess firearms.

After the hold-up, Allen fled to Morocco with Murray and the pair began enjoying a cocaine-fuelled party lifestyle in the sun.

Both men were seized by Moroccan authorities months later and locked up in the rat-infested "hell hole" of Rabat prison.

Father-of-three Allen claimed he knew nothing about the robbery and jurors were unable to reach a verdict after a first trial at the Old Bailey.

On the night of the raid, depot manager Colin Dixon, his wife and young child were kidnapped to allow the gang to gain entry, and 14 staff members were terrorised and tied up at gunpoint as the robbers stuffed cash into a 7.5-ton lorry during the 66-minute hold-up.

Kickboxer Lea Rusha, car salesman Stuart Royle, unemployed Albanian Jetmir Bucpapa and garage owner Roger Coutts were all jailed indefinitely in 2008 with minimum terms of 15 years after being convicted of taking part.

Inside man Emir Hysenaj, an Albanian, who filmed inside the depot using a miniature camera, was given 20 years.

Last week, judges at the Court of Appeal in London dismissed applications by Rusha, now 37, and Bucpapa, now 28, to have their convictions overturned.

After throwing out the conviction challenges, the judges dismissed an appeal against sentence by Rusha.

They allowed a challenge by Bucpapa "in part" by quashing the indeterminate sentence for public protection, replacing it with a determinate sentence of 30 years imprisonment.

Last month, the former wife of fugitive Sean Lupton, who is wanted in connection with the raid, denied holding any inside information about the crime.

Lupton, an amateur boxer, vanished while on bail after being arrested in November 2006 on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery.

His wife of 22 years, mother-of-two Therese Lupton, last saw him a month later and since then there have been reported sightings of him in northern Cyprus.

Speaking to ITV's Meridian Tonight, Mrs Lupton questioned why he has not been caught more than four years on and denied having any knowledge of the raid.

Police have recovered £21 million of the record-breaking cash haul and are still hunting for the rest of the cash.