Cage fighter admits £53m robbery charges

By John-Paul Ford Rojas,Press Association
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:40
Paul Allen was jailed today for his part in the 2006 robbery
Paul Allen was jailed today for his part in the 2006 robbery

A cage fighter who helped plan Britain's biggest cash robbery was facing a lengthy jail term today after admitting three charges relating to the heist.

Paul Allen, 31, fled to Morocco with fellow fighter Lee Murray after the £53m hold-up in Tonbridge, Kent.

Allen was arrested and extradited to Britain before going on trial at the Old Bailey on three charges related to the February 2006 hold-up.

Jurors were unable to agree on a verdict and he was due to face a re-trial at Woolwich Crown Court today.

But Allen, of Chatham, Kent, today admitted three charges of conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to rob, and conspiracy to possess firearms.

He made the admissions on the basis that he was neither one of the robbers who entered the depot nor one of the kidnappers of depot manager Colin Dixon and his family. Sentencing is due to take place next Monday.

Allen's agreed basis of plea also said that he did not handle or obtain any firearms and that he was working for Murray and "did his bidding" in the planning of the robbery. It also stated that his only benefit was property in Morocco.

Roger Coe-Salazar, chief Crown prosecutor for Kent, said: "The Securitas robbery was meticulously organised and we have never had any doubts that Paul Allen played a pivotal role in the planning and execution of it."

Allen and Murray fled to begin a luxury lifestyle as police began rounding up their fellow conspirators.

They splashed out on sumptuous villas and expensive jewellery, while thousands of pounds were also spent on plastic surgery for their wives and girlfriends.

But the men's four-month spree of snorting cocaine, gambling in casinos and luxury shopping was to end in the rat-infested basement of a Moroccan jail.

Allen spent 20 months in the Rabat "hell hole" before being extradited while Murray, whose father was Moroccan, claimed nationality to avoid British justice.

Prosecutor Sir John Nutting QC said the men planned and executed the terrifying Securitas heist with "military precision".

Depot manager Colin Dixon and his family 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 raid.

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

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

Police have found £21m of the stolen haul.

Ferrari-driving Murray, the ringleader, was one of the world's leading cage-fighters, earning £30,000 a bout at events around the world, the Old Bailey heard.

He masterminded the record-breaking hold-up just months after he suffered a near-fatal stab wound outside a star-studded West End party.

Cane Patterson, another man named in court as taking part in the heist, has become the one who got away.

He is suspected of being the robber who, disguised as a policeman, was the first one to force his way into the depot on the night of the heist.

Patterson is now believed to be holed up in the West Indies but detectives have scaled down their search for him because evidence identifying him is compromised by the fact that he has a twin brother.

Allen, a father-of-three, claimed at his Old Bailey trial to have known nothing about the fact that his best friend Murray was planning the heist, but his guilty pleas mean he is now facing a lengthy spell in jail.

Plans are under way to make a Hollywood film about the robbery plot.

Allen was an aggressive steroid-pumping cage-fighter who acted as chief lieutenant and minder to Murray.

The powerfully-built fitness fanatic was a high-security prisoner who was closely guarded during his Old Bailey trial and followed to court every day by a helicopter from Belmarsh jail.

One day he leapt to his feet in a rage and threatened to climb out of the dock after a security guard spoke to his partner in the public gallery.

Armed guards were stationed at the door of the courtroom every day to prevent the 6ft 2in defendant from escaping.

Allen himself complained that he was kept so isolated at Belmarsh prison that he had no one on his wing to play pool with.

In front of the jury he posed as nothing more than a mild-mannered father-of-three who had unwittingly got mixed up in the schemes of Lee Murray - the best friend he had known for more than 20 years.

Allen was not the innocent family man he claimed to be. He was two-timing Stacie Dudley, the mother of his children, with a younger girlfriend.

But he claimed he would never dream of being involved in a violent robbery and kidnap plot involving a woman and young child.

Wide-eyed and pleading in the witness box, he adopted the manner of a schoolboy caught stealing from the tuck shop.

"I tell you members of the jury, I had nothing to do with this," he beseeched.

But Allen's fingerprints were found on cellophane in the same place where money cages were found dumped.

Before the heist, he bought a miniature camera used in the surveillance of the Securitas depot and a £4,000 Vauxhall Vectra later disguised as a police car and used to kidnap depot manager Colin Dixon and his family.