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A GANG who robbed a Hampshire bank have been jailed for a total of 23 years.

Leroy Hall, Leon McKenzie, Clifford Griffiths, and Caston Francis were locked up today following a string of robberies, including a terrifying masked raid on the Chandler’s Ford HSBC on November 24, 2011.

They showed no emotion as the sentences were handed down.

The judge, Mr Recorder Nigel Atkinson QC, described the group as “sophisticated” and said their previous criminal history added to the seriousness of the case.

The court heard they carried out reconnaissance trips just three months after Hall, 37, and McKenzie, 33, were released for their part in previous raids on the same banks they had targeted between 2005 and 2007. During the 2007 Chandler’s Ford heist, two of the robbers were shot dead by police.

The thieves focused on G4S cash-in-transit security guards as they made their deliveries, including at banks in Gloucester, Bath, and Reading.

Daily Echo:

Leon McKenzie

They made off with £25,000 in the Chandler’s Ford attack, and a £125,000 haul from Gloucester. In each instance, abandoned getaway cars were found near the scene, as the group swapped them for ‘clean’ vehicles.

Daily Echo:

Leroy Hall

Leroy Hall, described by the judge as “the heart” of the London gang, received 6.5 years. McKenzie, considered to be a “principal” member, was handed six years.

Daily Echo:

Clifford Griffiths

Clifford Griffiths, 36, was sentenced to five years and will serve significantly less, having already spent almost a year on remand.

Daily Echo:

Caston Francis

The court heard that Caston Francis, 52, has been diagnosed with cancer and that he did not participate in the actual robberies, but accepted taking part in some of the reconnaissance trips.

But the judge told the defendants: “The seriousness of this event is self-evident. It becomes academic whether you were involved in one, two or three reconnaissance trips. You were part of a conspiracy.”

Speaking afterwards, Detective superintendent Steve Black, of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: “This was a sophisticated organised crime group who were willing to use violence and the threat of violence.”

CCTV showing the two robberies in Gloucester