Gang members in £53m heist lose appeal

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The Independent Online

Two members of a gang jailed for their roles in stealing £53 million in Britain's biggest cash heist failed in bids to overturn their convictions today.

Judges at the Court of Appeal dismissed applications by Lea Rusha, now 37, and Jetmir Bucpapa, now 28, who were convicted at the Old Bailey in January 2008.

The pair, both jailed for a minimum of 15 years by the trial judge, watched today's proceedings in London via video link from prison.

Their applications for permission to appeal against conviction were rejected by Lord Justice Moses, sitting with two other judges, who said "the offence for which they were convicted was notorious".

When the pair and others were sentenced by Mr Justice Penry-Davey he said they had taken part in "organised banditry" during the early morning raid at the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent, in February 2006.

They kidnapped depot manager Colin Dixon, his wife Lynn and their young child and used them to gain entry to the building.

On the night of the hold-up, heavily-armed robbers trussed up 14 terrified employees with cable ties and threatened to kill them if they disobeyed orders.

Rusha, a kick boxer and former roofer, of Lambersart Close, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, was given an indeterminate sentence for public protection and told he would serve at least 15 years.

Unemployed Albanian Bucpapa, of Hadlow Road, Tonbridge, was given the same sentence.

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.