- Henley Stephenson wore the disguise during a 12-year campaign of hold-ups at betting shops and other stores across London
- He was part of a three-man gang jailed for a total of 28 years
- CCTV footage showed him firing a semi-automatic pistol into the ceiling during a raid on a betting shop
- The mask was bought from the same London shop which supplied masks used in the £40m Graff Diamonds heist
PUBLISHED: 12:22 EST, 1 June 2012 | UPDATED: 18:30 EST, 1 June 2012
Most masked robbers opt for a balaclava to hide their identity.
Not this one. Henley Stephenson, 41, eluded police for more than ten years thanks to an extraordinarily lifelike latex mask, which turned him into a white skinhead.
Officers discovered that their man was in fact black when they finally caught up with Stephenson after a string of armed raids dating back to 1999.
Disguise: Serial armed robber Henley Stephenson wore a latex face mask to make him look like a white man
And Police believe the mask may have been used on several different occasions and have asked colleagues to look into unsolved cases involving a white robber.
The mask was bought from the same Covent Garden store which supplied masks that were worn by robbers who carried out a £40million heist at jewellers Graff Diamonds in New Bond Street in 2009.
Cunning: Police believe the latex disguise may have been used on several occasions
Stephenson’s gang were arrested last July in a Flying Squad ambush as they targeted a cash-in-transit security guard outside Curry’s at Staples Corner.
They had been laying in wait in a blue Vauxhall Zafira, with false number plates, for the guard to leave the superstore with a cash box.
Once the guard left the building, Stephenson and Dean Williams, 26, leapt out and confronted him.
Stephenson, who was wearing a high visibility orange jacket, pointed a semi-automatic pistol at the guard whilst shouting for the cash box.
Williams snatched the cash box containing £19,800, and ran to their parked car which was being driven by the third man, 22-year-old Leon Topper.
Armed police from Finchley Flying Squad then swooped on the men and they were arrested at the scene.
Dramatic CCTV images from another raid, carried out in July last year, show how Stephenson fired a pistol into the ceiling at a Corals bookmakers in South Harrow.
Terrified staff and customers ran for cover as he fired the shot while Topper acted as a look-out at the front doors.
Stephenson, of Westminster, central London, was jailed for a total of 14 years at Wood Green Crown Court today.
He pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to 20 counts of robbery and five counts of possessing a firearm.
Terrifying: Stephenson points a gun at a member of staff during a raid at a Harrow betting shop
Threatening: Stephenson fires the pistol into the ceiling as staff and customers flee
Danger: Stephenson was jailed for a total of 14 years for his involvement in this raid and other robberies
Topper, of Watford, Hertfordshire, was jailed for eight years for two counts of robbery and two counts of possessing a firearm.
Deadly: Stephenson’s semi-automatic pistol was recovered by police after a ‘meticulous’ investigation
Williams, of Islington, north London, was jailed for six years for robbery and possessing a firearm.
Detective Chief Inspector Harry Hennigan, of the Finchley Flying Squad, said: ‘Stephenson executed these crimes in a calculated and frightening manner with no regard for innocent members of the public.
‘His measures were so extreme, he tried to deceive the police by concealing his identity by wearing a lifelike latex mask which completely altered his skin colour and appearance.
‘Stephenson also fired a gun in front of terrified members of the public, who scrambled for cover during a betting shop robbery.
‘Following a meticulous investigation, Stephenson and his two accomplices were identified and arrested.
‘I would like to pay tribute to the staff and the customers who bravely came forward to assist us in our investigation which has supported our case in bringing these men to justice.’
The detective added: ‘I hope these convictions act as a deterrent to others, and illustrates the Flying Squad’s continued determination to arrest violent individuals who are responsible for committing such serious crimes.’
Gang members Dean Williams (left), of Islington, north London, and Leon Topper (right), of Watford, Hertfordshire, were jailed for six and eight years respectively