Published: 15:02, 20 September 2021
| Updated: 18:21, 20 September 2021
One of seven robbers found guilty of Britain's biggest cash heist when £53m was stolen from a Tonbridge depot, could soon be moved to an open prison.
Lea Rusha was given an indefinite sentence by the courts after a trial into the Securitas robbery in 2006.
Rusha's sentence came with the condition he serve a minimum of 15 years, for his part in the robbery that saw an armed gang escape with £53m after forcing the cash centre's manager to co-operate by holding his wife and child hostage.
Rusha, who was 35 at the time and living in Lambersart Close, Southborough, has now completed 13 years behind bars.
The Parole Board said that two years before completion of their sentence, prisoners serving a life sentence were eligible for a pre-tariff review, which could recommend a move to an open prison to prepare them for release, if the Parole Board deemed their risk had reduced enough.
Around £32m of the haul was never recovered by police, but it is unlikely that when Rusha is eventually released it will be to pick up a fortune, since it is believed that his share of the loot was among the £20m that has been recovered.
Police found £10m stuffed in 18 holdalls at a lock-up garage in Castle Street, Southborough, a short distance from Rusha’s house, and another £1.3m in a van in an Ashford car park which was also connected to him.
They also found disguises, a revolver and shotgun used by the gang at his home, which had helped secure his conviction.
In 2010, Woolwich Crown Court considered compensation orders against six of the convicted men, with some ordered to pay back sums as large as £2m, or have their jail sentences increased.
Rusha, however, was given an order to pay back only a nominal £1 after the court was persuaded that his share of the haul had already been recovered.
Rusha, now 48, a father-of-two, had worked as a roofer and was a kickboxer before the robbery.
A massive police investigation involved 100 officers and cost £6m, saw eight men convicted by 2010.
Police did bring charges against another seven men, but all were acquitted at their hearings.
Rusha was convicted at the Old Bailey in 2008.
He will have his parole board hearing in November, with a decision due the same month.
A Parole Board spokesman said: "We will only make a recommendation for open conditions if a Parole Board panel is satisfied that the risk to the public has reduced sufficiently to be manageable in an open prison.
"If a recommendation is made for a move to open, the final decision lies with the Ministry of Justice to approve the move or not.
"A move to open conditions involves testing the prisoner’s readiness for future release and they could be returned to closed conditions if there is concern about their behaviour."
He said: "In short, although Rusha is being reviewed by the Board he will not be released as he hasn’t reached his tariff, but could be moved to an open prison."