Disguise-maker cleared of £53m robbery charges

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The Independent Online

A hairdresser who helped prepare disguises for Britain's biggest cash robbery gang was cleared today of all charges in relation to the raid.

Michael Demetris, 32, admitted helping to make the disguises but said he did not know they were for the £53m robbery.



Demetris, of Bromley, south east London, told Old Bailey jurors he thought they were for a video game.



Jurors are continuing to deliberate in the case of Paul Allen, 30, who is said to have been "at the heart" of the plan to rob the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent, in February 2006.



Depot manager Colin Dixon and his family were kidnapped by the robbery gang, which was alleged to have been led by Allen's best friend Lee Murray.



Today Demetris was cleared of charges of conspiracy to kidnap, rob, and possess firearms. Allen, of Chatham, Kent, denies similar charges.













During the trial, Demetris told the court he knew alleged mastermind Lee Murray as a regular customer at his salon.



He said Murray, a leading cage fighter, had asked him to help with a "project" to make a video game called "Hitman".



Demetris said he did not press Murray on too many details about the game because "some clients don't like being pushed around".



He said: "Lee said he was acting out these martial arts moves in a green backdrop. He said he had pads attached to his arms and legs.



"He said it was going to be a new British game called Hitman. He said there was going to be four blokes.



"It was going to be quite an explosive game. It was going to be quite big."



Demetris worked on the hair of men who later turned out to be involved in the robbery and allowed make-up artist Michelle Hogg, who worked in his salon, to work at home creating face masks.



When asked by his counsel Joel Bennathan QC whether he felt he was "not being given the full picture" about the work, he said: "Towards the end, yes."



Mr Bennathan asked him: "Did you ever think this was a criminal conspiracy you were helping out with?"



"Absolutely not," he replied.



Demetris told the court he had been a hairdresser all his life, starting out at the age of 13 when he helped his mother out at the salon where she worked.



He started his own business called Hair Hectik in Forest Hill, south east London, and also worked on photo shoots including one for the TV presenter Sarah Beeny, the court was told.