Published: 17:51, 05 July 2019
| Updated: 18:26, 05 July 2019
Two armed robbers who tricked their way into a home by using a vehicle disguised as a police car have been jailed.
Nicholas Hamill and Joseph Mezen were involved in a plot to steal cash from a property in Sevenoaks where one of the offenders was also dressed as an officer.
Today Hamill was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court to 14-and-a-half-years imprisonment.
WATCH: CCTV footage of armed robbers arriving in fake police car
Mezen was jailed for 14 years and given an extended licence of a further three years.
The court heard that during the evening of May 1 a Skoda Octavia pulled up to the front gates of the victim’s home in Wildernesse Avenue.
It looked like a police vehicle, with reflective police markings on the bonnet and sides and flashing blue lights on the roof.
A passenger, wearing a police uniform, approached the intercom claiming they were responding to a report of a disturbance.
When the victim opened the gate and his front door four men, who had already gained entry to the grounds by cutting a hole in a fence, stormed into the property.
They were wearing balaclavas and one was armed with what appeared to be a sawn off shotgun. The victim was forced to the floor and threatened with the weapon. A relative upstairs locked herself in a cupboard and activated an alarm.
This caused the offenders to panic and they fled empty handed.
An investigation by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate subsequently identified the car as one which had previously been used as an ambulance vehicle.
It had been bought just weeks before from an address in Maidstone and on the night of the robbery had been travelling on false number plates.
Evidence showed the car had carried out reconnaissance trips to the venue during the days before. Analysis of automatic number plate recognition cameras also revealed trips where it had been travelling in convoy, with vehicles found to be linked to the suspects.
The investigation led to the arrests of Hamill and Mezen, along with a third man, John Moys.
A further suspect, Ronnie Mead, handed himself into police. Mead’s DNA was recovered after the Skoda was found abandoned and set alight at a location in Nottingham, two days after the robbery. The DNA was detected on a hooded top Mead had left close to the scene.
At court Mezen, 28, of Town Court Close, Herne Bay and Hamill, 35, of Carlton Hill, Herne Bay denied conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of an imitation firearm whilst carrying out a schedule one offence. They were both found guilty following a trial.
Moys, 45, of Old Tree, Hoath, Canterbury pleaded guilty to the same charges and will be sentenced at a later date.
Mead, 30, of Randolph Road, Dover pleaded guilty to two counts of assisting an offender. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
A fifth suspect, Malcolm Maxted, 45, of Daiglen Drive, South Ockendon, Essex appeared in court charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and possession of an imitation firearm whilst committing a schedule one offence. He was found not guilty, following the trial.
DI James Derham said: "Moys, Hamill and Mezen went to great lengths to plan and carry out offences which involved subjecting their victims to enduring a terrifying ordeal. We have presented compelling evidence to the court, from what has been a complex and challenging investigation and yet two of them have continued to deny their involvement throughout the trial.
"I am pleased the court has recognised their pivotal roles in this awful crime and the sentences reflect the seriousness of their offending. We know all too well just how devastating burglaries can be, for anyone whose home is broken into, and I hope that today’s verdicts will provide the victims with a level of closure."