A court has heard how an inept robber's attempted multi-million pound raid on a Swanley cash depot turned into a “farce” when he knocked down the wrong wall with a digger.
After discovering an empty room and then a discarded warehouse, Raymond Betson and his accomplices stupidly left equipment and a stopwatch nearby which allowed police officers to link them to the attack and trace Betson through DNA.
The 52-year-old, from Folkestone, and other unknown offenders targeted the Loomis cash depot in Mark Way, Swanley, in the early hours of March 23, 2012.
Just before 5am a heavy-duty digger, which had been stolen, was driven into the outside wall of the depot in a bid to knock it over and allow the offenders to gain access.
The digger rammed the wall a number of times before one of the robbers, who were armed with baseball bats and white sacks, climbed over the rubble, only to find an empty room. The group then entered a nearby empty warehouse, only to find it was empty too.
Less than a minute later, the offenders ran off empty-handed.
Police attended the scene and later discovered an abandoned Mitsubishi 4x4 in a field near to Petham Court Farm, Swanley, in a dip.
Officers discovered a two-way radio, a baseball bat and large white bags inside.
They also found a balaclava, a snood and a running stopwatch in a nearby bush which allowed officers to calculate the time on the stopwatch and link it to the attempted robbery.
DNA gathered from the snood and the balaclava provided a near-perfect match to Betson – there was less than one in a billion chance it could match anyone else.
On December 5, 2012, officers from the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate carried out a search warrant at Betson’s address and he was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery.
Investigations to trace and identify the outstanding offenders continue.
On Friday (July 18) Betson was found guilty of attempted robbery at Maidstone Crown Court.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Helen King said: “Betson wanted to make a lot of money quickly and was significantly involved in this botched robbery.
“The attempt displayed a level of violence and organisation with the use of a digger, weapons such as baseball bats and a getaway vehicle.
“But what went from an armed robbery quickly turned into a farce because they knocked down the wrong wall, then searched an empty warehouse and managed to render the getaway vehicle useless as they fled the scene, discarding equipment nearby.
“I’m pleased the jury have recognised Betson’s guilt. Our investigations to bring his fellow offenders to justice continue.”
Betson will be sentenced on August 8.