A GUN-WIELDING gang have been locked up a total of 33 years for planning to rob a security van.

Three people from Leigh, Brentwood and Chadwell Heath, have been sentenced for conspiring to rob vans including a foiled attempt outside Belfairs post office in Eastwood Road North, Leigh.

Getaway driver Sandra Clarke, 45, of Eastwood Road North, Leigh, was sentenced to seven years, while Patrick Claydon, 49, of Ongar Road, Brentwood, was sent to prison for 14 and a half years.

Tommy Aitken, 38, of Braithwaite Avenue, Chadwell Heath, near Romford, was locked up for 12 years.

All three pleaded guilty today.

Clarke also pleaded guilty to possession of class A drugs.
Claydon and Aitken also pleaded guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to commit and indictable offence and possession of a prohibited weapon.

They were rumbled by London Metropolitan and Essex Police when they tried to rob cash from a van outside Belfairs Post Office in Eastwood Road North, Leigh, on November 13 last year.

As the van pulled up, Claydon, dressed in a balaclava and gloves and carrying a black holdall, got out of the car and made his way towards the van. London Met, supported by Essex Police firearms officers, swooped and both men were arrested.

Clarke, who was parked in another car a short distance away in Danescroft Drive, was also arrested.

Det sgt Scott Chimes of London Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad led the operation. He said: "Our investigation revealed that Claydon, Aitken and Clarke conspired and planned to rob cash in transit custodians in Essex over a period of months in 2013.

“However, they were caught in the act as they tried to put their plans into action - this was due to diligent and meticulous police work.

"I am grateful for the help provided by Essex Police and the Post Office in relation to this investigation, which has resulted in three dangerous individuals being put behind bars.

"This operation has also seen two potentially lethal firearms taken off the streets.

"I hope this sentencing reassures businesses and the public that those who believe they can commit such serious crimes will be caught and will face justice."