Inside story into record robbery
PUBLISHED: 15:07 02 December 2009 | UPDATED: 11:16 23 August 2010
THE author of a book about the £53million Securitas robbery which is set to inspire a Hollywood movie said the gang took after The Ladykillers rather than Ocean s Eleven . Howard Sounes, whose book Heist comes out tomorrow, spent three years rubbing s
THE author of a book about the £53million Securitas robbery which is set to inspire a Hollywood movie said the gang took after 'The Ladykillers' rather than 'Ocean's Eleven'.
Howard Sounes, whose book Heist comes out tomorrow, spent three years rubbing shoulders with the criminal underworld of Kent and south-east London to research his book about the world's biggest cash robbery that took place in Tonbridge, Kent, in February 2006.
And, despite receiving threats and intimidation himself, he continued to find out about the characters behind the crime and the eventual conviction of six men who were jailed for a total of nearly 80 years.
Now, as talks continue with Darren Aronofsky, who directed the Oscar-nominated The Wrestler, to make a film based on the book, former Daily Mirror journalist Mr Sounes said that the British crime flick would have a humourous edge.
"They succeeded in pulling it off but then it goes wrong," he said. "They were some great examples of stupidity.
"It was a heist, similar to the film Ocean's Eleven, but they were more like The Ladykillers, they had more money than the could cope with and kept falling out with each other so everything was going wrong. It was pretty amateurish."
But the gang, that included Northfleet garage owner Roger Coutts from Bexleyheath, car dealer Stuart Royle from Maidstone, Lea Rusha, from Tunbridge Wells, Paul Allen from Woolwich, Jetmir Bucpapa, from Tonbridge, and Ermir Hysenaj, from Crowborough, and had its fair share of 'unpleasant' characters.
Early on in his research, Mr Sounes was himself subject to threats and intimidation.
He said: "There were a couple of nasty moments, some characters locked me in a room and closed the blinds to give me a kind of interrogation. There was one guy who stood by the door and I was given the third degree as to where I got their names from.
"I was quite unprepared for that and it was not much fun. But I decided to remain calm and polite, I could see myself getting punched in the face. It was quite unpleasant.
"They let me go in the end but it didn't put me off. I was committed to do it by then and I don't think you should give up because people bully you."
Mr Sounes, 44, was then faced with communicating with another 'intimidating' individual, Lee Murray who was said during the Old Bailey trial to be the raid's ringleader and remains in a prison in Morocco having fought extradition to the UK to stand trial for the robbery.
In the opening pages of his book, Mr Sounes publishes letters that were sent personally to him by cage fighter 'Lightening' Lee Lamrani-Murray.
One reads: "Why the f*** would I want to come home to face an indeterminate sentence? OK, I am in 24-hour solitary confinement in a f***in' dungeon in Morocco, with rats and cockroaches the size of mice, and a[n] English prison is like a Hilton Hotel compared to this f***in' place, but it's still four walls and a door.
"And what chance do I have of getting a 'not guilty'? They have already made it sound like I committed the robbery."
He continued: "How many tough kids on the street will grow up and get to where I got to? And I don't mean a prison cell. Probably one-in-a-million. Or should I say one in 53 million."
Half of the £53 million that was stolen has never been recovered and one of the biggest finds was £9.6 million stashed in Welling Corner.
n HEIST: The True Story of the World's Biggest Cash Robbery, published by Simon & Schuster, is out tomorrow priced £7.99.