Leeds gun robber on the run jailed at last

Anthony Craggs.
Anthony Craggs.
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Six years ago robber Anthony Craggs slipped out of Leeds and out of the clutches of the courts.

He vanished into Europe while his armed confederates faced the legal music for a series of shotgun robberies.

He was thought to have a safe haven in Spain, but then a case of mistaken identity on a street in Amsterdam unmasked him and brought him home to justice.

Today the robber who skipped bail is being bars after being jailed 11 years for his crimes.

Anthony Craggs’s Leeds-based gang stole £89,000 in brutal shotgun raids on building societies. Police caught his three accomplices and they were jailed for a total of 29 years at Leeds Crown Court in December 2004.

Craggs was arrested in September 2003 and interviewed, and later bailed. But he jumped his bail in May 2004 and went on the run across Europe.

Leeds Crown Court heard he spent four years in Spain and two years in Amsterdam where his life on the run was brought to an end in April, 2010, when he was arrested by Dutch police, who thought he was someone else. Craggs fingerprints were taken and his true identity was discovered and the police in the UK were alerted.

Craggs, 32, was extradited to the UK and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and failing to surrender to bail before his trial was due to start on Monday.

Jailing Craggs for 11 years Recorder Mark Cram QC yesterday said the robberies were “professionally executed”.

Prosecutor Tim Capstick said a Volkswagon Golf and a Vauxhall Vectra stolen in Leeds were used as getaway cars after a robbery at an Abbey National branch in Bournemouth in January 2003.

Three Securicor guards filling an atm with cash were attacked by three masked men wielding a shotgun and baseball bat. Mr Capstick said one guard needed eight stitches in a head wound after he was struck on the head with a bat. The raiders escaped with £31,528 and the Golf and Vectra were found burned out nearby.

A Jaguar stolen from Ireland Wood in Leeds and a Saab taken from the Beckett Park area were used as getaway vehicles when two masked men robbed an Abbey National branch in Edinburgh in March 2003 when £58,000 was taken from security guards filling an atm machine, by two men armed with a shotgun.

The court heard one guard was punched and kicked in that incident.

Mr Capstick said analysis of Craggs phone proved he was in Bournemouth and Edinburgh when the armed robberies took place and had been in the cities previously on reconnaissance missions.

Police discovered equipment for making false number plates at Craggs former home address in Wetherby Road, Leeds.

Tim Bubb, for Craggs, said: “This isn’t somebody who ran off with a large sum of money and was thoroughly enjoying himself on the Costa Crime. From the outset of that period he immediately began to regret what he had done because it interfered with his relationship with his child and partner. It wasn’t an experience he enjoyed.

“When he was finally identified by Dutch police and brought back he has felt a sense of real relief.”

Mr Bubb said Craggs accepted organising getaway cars for the robbery but denied handling any weapons or being directly involved in the raids.

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