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Bungling robber jailed after knocking down the wrong wall

A bungling robber has been jailed for thirteen years for his part in an attempted raid on a cash depot. But Raymond Betson's attempt to steal more than a million pounds failed - when he knocked down the wrong wall with the digger he'd stolen. Betson had previously been jailed for his part in the attempted robbery of the diamonds at the Millennium Dome in the year 2000. Andrea Thomas reports. She spoke to Detective Inspector Rob Haines.

Botched cash depot raid - how Betson got it wrong

Bungling ex-millenium Dome robber Ray Betson botched a cash depot raid by breaking down the wrong wall!

Betson, 52, of Clifton Crescent, Folkestone, targeted the Loomis cash depot in Mark Way, Swanley, in the early hours of Friday 23 March 2012.

Just before 5am a heavy-duty digger, which had been stolen, was driven into the outside wall of the depot in a bid to knock it over and allow the offenders to gain internal access.

The digger rammed the wall a number of times before one of the robbers, who were armed with baseball bats and white sacks, climbed over the rubble only to find an empty room. The group then entered a nearby empty warehouse only to find it was empty too.

Less than a minute later, the offenders ran off empty handed.

Digger used in bunged raid Credit: Kent Police

Police later discovered an abandoned Mitsubishi 4x4 in a field which had become grounded on a dip, but inside they found a two-way radio, a baseball bat and large white bags.

In a nearby bush, a balaclava, a snood and a running stopwatch were also found allowing officers to calculate the time on the stopwatch and link it to the attempted robbery.

DNA gathered from the snood and the balaclava provided a near perfect match to Betson – there was less than one in a billion chance it could match anyone else.

Abandoned $x$ found grounded in a field Credit: Kent Police

Betson wanted to make a lot of money quickly and was significantly involved in this botched robbery.

‘The attempt displayed a level of violence, planning and organisation with the use of a digger, weapons such as baseball bats and a getaway vehicle.

‘But what went from an armed robbery quickly turned into a farce because they knocked down the wrong wall, then searched an empty warehouse and managed to render the getaway vehicle useless as they fled the scene, discarding equipment nearby.

Betson had been previously convicted for his part in the Millennium Dome robbery in November 2000.

– Rob Haines, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate

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Bungling Betson back behind bars

Bungling robber Ray Betson has been given a 13 year sentence today after his attempt to rob a multi-million pound cash depot in Swanley failed when he knocked down the wrong wall with a digger

Ray Betson sentenced to 13 years for bungled multi-million pound raid Credit: Kent Police
Digger used in the failed raid Credit: Kent Police

Betson will only serve 6-7 years in prison the rest of the time he will be on licence in the community.

He tried to break into the Swanley cash depot only months after being released jail for being the notorious ring leader of the Dome Raiders - the gang that planned to steal £200 million pounds worth of diamonds from the Millenium Dome, now called the O2.

Betson chose the wrong wall to try and break through Credit: Kent Police

The Dome Raiders planned to go down in history as the robbers who would pull off the biggest and most audacious robbery of the Millennium. An old fashioned smash-and-grab at a diamond exhibition in the Dome.

They boasted they would never be caught and prided themselves on their meticulous planning to keep them one step ahead of the law, using state of the art technology, anti-surveillance devices and had seemingly limitless funds for a sophisticated, military-styled operation which would reap a multi-million pound reward.

Ringleader Betson claimed they were not intending to hurt anyone when they smashed through the Dome entrance at high speed on a converted JCB digger dressed as terrorists with sledgehammers, ammonia and smoke grenades.

When they were caught red-handed they could not accept they had been simply out-manoeuvred by the Flying Squad.

At the trial one of the gang ruefully put it: "We would have got away with it but for the fact there were 140 police waiting for us."

Ram raiding lorry driver jailed for five years

The ram raid in Southampton Credit: Adam Easton

A lorry driver who ram-raided a Southampton jewellers and took expensive watches has been jailed for nearly five years. 54 year old Gary Barnes, of no fixed abode was charged with robbery. Police were called to Parkhouse and Wyatt jewellers in Above Bar Street in February.

An articulated lorry had been reversed down the road and into the jeweller’s window, where the driver helped himself to watches, officers said. Barnes then fled from the scene in the white Mercedes cab of the lorry, leaving the trailer behind in the jeweller’s window and blocking the busy road.

A few minutes later, police spotted the cab in Shirley Avenue. When officers attempted to pull it over, he reversed into the police car.

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Man charged over lorry ram raid

A man has been charged with robbery following a ram raid at a Southampton jewellery shop.

Yesterday 10.12am police were called to Parkhouse and Wyatt jewellers in Above Bar Street after an articulated lorry was reversed down the road and into the jeweller's window.

Gary Barnes, 54-years-old, of no fixed abode has been charged with robbery.

He will appear at Southampton Magistrates Court today.

Pictures - Lorry used in Southampton ram raid

Ram raid in Southampton this morning. Credit: Adam Easton

Police in Southampton say they arrested a suspected ram raider just nine minutes after an articulated lorry was reversed into a city centre jeweller’s.

At 10am this morning, police were called to Parkhouse and Wyatt jewellers in Above Bar Street. An articulated lorry had been reversed down the road and into the jeweller’s window, where the driver helped himself to watches, officers said.

Ram raid in Southampton this morning. Credit: Adam Easton

The thief then fled from the scene in the white Mercedes cab of the lorry, leaving the trailer behind in the jeweller’s window and blocking the busy road.

A few minutes later, police spotted the cab in Shirley Avenue. When officers attempted to pull it over, the driver reversed into the police car.

No one was injured, and police arrested a 54-year-old Portsmouth man at 10.21am.

Above Bar Street remains closed for scenes of crime investigation and recovery of the trailer. The police car and Mercedes cab are being recovered from Howard Grove, Shirley.

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