Armed robbers locked up for £50k heist on Loomis van at Esso garage in Strood
Armed robbers George
Brockett, Michael McCluskey and Alfie Barker
by Keith Hunt
Three armed robbers have today been locked up for a total of
almost 30 years after a raid that netted £50,000 from a cash
The trio were sentenced for conspiracy to commit robbery and
possessing an imitation firearm at the Esso garage in Strood.
George Brockett, 25, was jailed for 12 years; Michael McCluskey,
25, for 10 years and eight months; and Alfie Barker, 18, was
sent to youth custody for seven years.
They targeted the Cuxton Road service station at around 11.50am
on September 19, escaping with around £50,000.
Armed officers and a police helicopter were scrambled after
witnesses said they had seen a weapon.
The Loomis van targeted
at Strood's Esso - here in front of a stand-alone ATM
Maidstone Crown Court heard Loomis security guards were
confronted by the weapon as they loaded cash into an ATM.
One of the guards told how an adrenalin rush made him ignore a
warning from one of the raiders not to run.
Mark Brookman, who has worked for Loomis for more than 11 years,
said he "scarpered" into the garage shop to call for help after he
saw a man brandishing a shotgun appear through a gap in the fence
at the rear of the forecourt.
He was told to stop running, but he added: "Adrenalin got the
better of me. I also pressed my panic alarm which informs our
Both Mr Brookman and his colleague, William Cook, described
hearing a cracking noise as the first armed robber came through the
fence just after 11.40am.
CCTV image of raiders
fleeing the scene of the Esso raid
Mr Cook said in a statement: "I looked to see a man walking
towards me with a sawn-off shotgun. The man had kicked through the
fence making a gap big enough for him to get through."
Mr Cook said the hooded raider shouted and warned him not to
lock the safe.
"He carried on walking towards me, pointing the gun at me," he
said. "I started to back away. I noticed another man come through
the hole in the fence and he was wearing the same kind of
"As I was walking backwards the man with the gun stood at the
back of our van pointing the gun at me. The other man went to the
back of the machine, knelt down and opened the door. I assumed he
was taking the cassettes (of cash).
"I carried on backing away from the males. Neither made any
attempt to stop me. The second man then got up with both cassettes,
one under each arm and they went through the gap in the fence."
Dozens of police officers
at the scene of the cash raid in Strood
Jurors heard the stand-alone cash machine at Temple Farm service
station was always replenished on a Wednesday. The garage was
closed at the time for refurbishment and the forecourt was coned
A total of £53,000 in £10 and £20 notes was stolen.
Judge Philip Statman said the security guards were threatened
with a weapon resembling a sawn-off shotgun.
"It was planned with consummate skill," he said. "A hole was cut
in a fence to ensure a quick getaway. You wore masks. It was a
horrifying experience for the guards. Little of the cash has been
The judge said McCluskey was the principal in the robbery.
McCluskey, of Brinkburn Close, Abbey Wood, and
Barker, of Mangold Way, Erith, admitted the conspiracy
and firearm offences. Brocket, of Ivy Close, Gravesend, admitted
conspiracy to commit robbery and was convicted of possessing
an imitation firearm by a jury.
Armed police at the scene
of the raid on Esso in Strood
DC Wayne Totterdell, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime
Directorate, said today: "I'm pleased with today's sentencing as it
brings to close a very serious crime.
"This was a terrifying ordeal for the victims involved, but I'd
like to take the opportunity to praise the efforts of those who
gave evidence and the officers who worked tirelessly to bring these
three robbers to justice.
"Brockett had tried to play down his role in the robbery by
denying possession of an imitation firearm, despite evidence
showing otherwise. All three of them will spend a significant time
in jail where they can contemplate the consequences of their
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