Antwerp bullion theft gang from Essex and Kent jailed

Gold bullion
Image caption Members of the gang were jailed for more than 23 years

Six British men who took part in a complex plot to steal gold and silver bullion in Belgium have been jailed.

The six were involved in a raid on a bullion lorry whose driver was an "inside man", the Old Bailey heard.

Five gang members, from Essex and Kent, admitted charges of conspiracy to steal the bullion in Antwerp and the sixth was found guilty of the same charge.

They were arrested following a surveillance operation by British police in October last year.

A seventh man who admitted the offence will be sentenced at a later date.

Lorry driver Brian Mulcahay, 46, of Grosvenor Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, David Chatwood, 58, of Sawyers Grove, and Stanley Rose, 75, of Iver, Pilgrims Hatch, both of Brentwood, along with David Gale, 55, of Hansells Mead, Harlow, Essex, and Gary Cummings, 51, of Anne Way, Ilford, Essex, pleaded guilty.

John Corley, 53, of Tankerton Road, Whitstable, Kent, was found guilty following a trial.

A seventh man, Matthew Middleton, 42, of Crows Road, Epping, Essex, also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced at a later date.

Image caption The men were jailed for conspiracy to steal gold bullion

The court was told Mulcahay was discovered by police locked in his vehicle in Belgium on 4 October 2011 after ringing his employers to say he had been robbed.

Chatwood was seen to contact some of the other accused conspirators four days later at a Harvester restaurant in Dartford, Kent.

Nine days after the robbery, most of the bullion was discovered in an apartment and a hotel room in Antwerp which had been rented by Rose.

The robbers were captured within days, unaware they had been watched by police as they hatched their plot.

'Made in Britain'

John Price, QC, prosecuting, told an earlier hearing: "Although this theft was executed in Belgium, this British lorry and its valuable bullion cargo had been targeted for the theft by British thieves.

"This had been a crime 'made in Britain'."

Judge Hone said it was a "well organised and sophisticated" conspiracy involving the use of lorry driver Mulcahay as the inside man.

The judge said with time served since pleading guilty in April, Chatwood would serve two years and nine months.

He had been recalled to prison because he was on licence from a 2001 sentence of 12 years for drugs and firearms offences.

Mulcahay was jailed for three years and six months, while Rose was jailed for four years.

Gale and Cummings were each jailed for three years. John Corley was given six years.

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