Armed gang boss weeps at 20-year jail term
Published 01/04/2010 | 05:00
The leader of an armed robbery gang wept yesterday as he learned he was likely to die in prison after being convicted by a judge in a historic trial without a jury.
Career criminal John Twomey (62) was jailed for 20 years and six months at the Old Bailey for a £1.75m (€2m) raid on a Heathrow warehouse in February 2004.
The twice-married father-of-five raised a tattooed forearm and wiped away tears amid sobs from the public gallery before being taken down from the dock.
His barrister, John Aspinall, said: "It is a distinct prospect that he will serve the rest of his days in prison."
It has taken four trials to bring Twomey -- who has serious heart problems - and three other robbers to justice.
The legal costs are estimated at more than £25m (€28m) -- more than 14 times the amount stolen.
The third trial was stopped amid allegations of jury tampering and, under new laws, the Court of Appeal ordered a judge alone to hear the case, which began in January.
It was the first serious criminal trial without a jury in England and Wales and described by the Crown Prosecution Service as a "benchmark" case.
Yesterday, Twomey, of New Milton, Hampshire, England, was found guilty of robbery and a firearms charge alongside Glenn Cameron (50), Barry Hibberd (43) and Peter Blake (57).
Blake, who shot at one of 16 members of staff rounded up during the armed raid at the Menzies World Cargo warehouse, was also convicted of attempting to cause grievous bodily harm and a further firearms charge.
Because of his previous record of armed robbery he was given three life sentences.
They took £1.05m in sterling and the rest of the cash in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Australian currency.