AFTER going on the run from prison for their parts in a daring £1.3 million raid at a cash handling centre, two of the gang hatched a plot to steal money from a security van.
It was meant to look like a robbery after takings had been collected from Co-op stores in Fenny Compton and Harbury – except that the driver was in on the plot.
But the plan failed and Terence McGurk fled to Portugal where he was then involved in the kidnap and torture of a man over a drugs debt.
As a result 37 year-old McGurk was only arrested and charged with the cash van plot after being returned to serve the rest of the eight-year sentence – given in Portugal – in this country.
And at Warwick Crown Court, McGurk, from Coventry, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.
Prosecutor Peter Grieves-Smith said in September 2007 McGurk had been jailed for six years for his part in a daring raid at the NatWest cash handling centre in Tamworth.
He and other men including Karl Powell had used a stolen skip lorry to smash through the wall of the premises before escaping with a total of £1.3 million.
Then in August 2009 he and the others were given three-year extensions to their sentences after failing to pay Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation orders of £256,000 each.
Despite that, at the end of October that year McGurk was allowed out of HMP Hewell for a ‘resettlement release’ of five nights – and failed to return to the jail.
While he was on the run, McGurk and three co-conspirators including Powell, who had also absconded from prison, planned to steal money from a security van.
Mr Grieves-Smith explained it was to be a theft rather than a robbery as the driver of the van was a ‘willing participant,’ although she was later acquitted.
At the end of November, as they began to set up their plan, the manager of the Co-op store in Bishops Itchington heard a scream after she had handed over the takings from the shop. She looked out and saw a masked man getting out of the security van and into a car which was driven off.
On December 7, after the takings from the Harbury store had been transferred to the van in a cash box at 5pm, under the watchful eye of members of the gang, it was tailed as it drove away.
Then on the A423, a Ford Focus pulled in front of the van and appeared to force it to stop before a man got out and, in a pretence of it being a robbery, smashed one of the van windows.
He was allowed into the van intending to drive it away, but it stalled and the ‘robber’ returned to the car empty-handed.
Two cars used in the plot were later found abandoned in Wolston.
Gang members Charles Cunningham, Gary Taylor and Powell were arrested within a couple of days.
Powell was later jailed for three-and-a-half years and the other two for three years after they were found guilty of conspiracy to steal following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
McGurk was linked to the conspiracy after his DNA was found on a mask in one of the cars Focus – but he had fled to Portugal where in 2012 he was jailed for eight years.
When he was arrested after being returned to serve the rest of that sentence in this country he admitted his role in the security van conspiracy, added Mr Grieves-Smith.
James Beck, defending, raised the question whether the sentence should be concurrent or consecutive to the sentences already being served.
Recorder Stuart Sprawson adjourned the case for McGurk’s status in prison and his release date to be checked – and McGurk was remanded in custody.