'Italian Job'-style armed robbers jailed for a total of 32 years after making off with £340,000


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The Independent Online

A gang of armed robbers who stole £340,000 in two Italian Job-style raids were jailed for a total of 32 years today.

The quartet used Mini Coopers to make their getaway from an East London money transfer shop imitating Michael Caine and his gang in iconic scenes from the 1969 heist movie. Shetu Meah, 32, Junior Hassan, 23, Akbar Hussain, 40, and Vinton Meade, 29, lay in wait for staff at the Barakah store in Whitechapel before following them they left and ambushing them in secluded residential streets. The store did not have any security to deliver takings.

The gang, led by Meah, netted £310,000 when they ambushed Barakah owner Hafiz Abdul Kadir in December 2011 as he got home in nearby Manor Park. Despite being held by police over the violent first raid, Meah was freed and still on bail 10 months later when Barakah worker Shahin Ahmed was robbed of £30,000.

Judge Timothy Pontius said: “It was a rash decision to release him on bail, given the nature of the first robbery.”

Meah fled to Bangladesh after the raid with his share of the haul while Hussain went on a spending spree bagging a BMW car. Judge Pontius said: “Both robberies were committed 10 months apart were undoubtedly well planned, carefully researched and carried out with inevitable ruthless efficiency which that planning resulted in. It was the lure of significant financial reward which led the robbers to select the business.”

Meah was handed a 12-year sentence due to the violence he used in the raids. Hassan was given nine years. Hussain, who has been in and out of prison since his first conviction in 1989, including a 54-month sentence for robbery with a hammer and knife, was given six years. Meade was sentenced to five years in prison.