A DANGEROUS “career criminal” from Chafford Hundred has been locked up for robbery and firearms offences - after he used a car to smash his way through the front of a bank.

Southend Standard:

Wayne Colligan, 43, of Daniel Close, previously pleaded guilty to six offences and was sentenced for them at the Old Bailey today.

He carried out in a robbery in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, on January 24 last year by driving a car through the front door of a Halifax branch - injuring a member of staff.

Terrified staff and customers were then threatened with a gun before he made off with £68,000 from an ATM machine which was being re-filled at the time.

Southend Standard:

On May 8, he was seen in High Street, Wanstead, east London, parking a car outside an HSBC bank and was stopped by police who found a loaded Russian Baikal pistol on him as well as a balaclava and tartan laundry bag.

Colligan was sentenced to life for two counts of conspiracy to rob, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence and possession of a firearm with intent to commit an offence.

He was sentenced to six years for possessing a prohibited weapon and four years for possessing ammunition without a certificate.

His sentences will run concurrently and he will not be eligible for parole for at least seven years and eight months.

Southend Standard:

Colligan's gun.

In his summing up, the judge, the Hon Mr Justice Cooke, described Colligan as ‘a dangerous career criminal’.

Colligan had pleaded not guilty to a further ten offences including two armed robberies, which were ordered to lie on file.

His accomplice David Cope, 49, of Hewett Road in Dagenham, east London, had pleaded guilty to two offences of conspiracy to rob and was sentenced to four years for the Hertfordshire offence and two years, eight months for the other.

Detective Constable John Conner of the Flying Squad, said: “The two criminals involved in these robberies showed scant consideration for the frightened staff and customers, who genuinely feared for their lives when confronted with a firearm.

“I am pleased with the sentences handed down and hope that they act as a deterrent to others.

“Had it not been for the hard work of the Flying Squad and our counterparts at Hertfordshire Police, these individuals would no doubt still be out committing further offences.”