3rd Jul, 2022

Notorious Coventry gun-smuggle jailed for armed robberies

Coventry Editorial 11th Jan, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A NOTORIOUS Coventry gun-smuggler once jailed for trying to smuggle an arsenal of guns and explosives into the UK is back behind bars for armed robberies.

Leon Chapman struck at Lloyds Bank in Newhall Street on May 18 last year – shortly after being released from prison following a 19 year sentence for importing revolvers, shotguns and grenades via Felixstowe port. He later went on to target Morrison’s Supermarket in Small Heath on June 9.

Chapman, now living in Leeds, threatened security guards with a gun as they made deliveries before stealing cash and making off on a motorbike.

He meticulously planned his offences, driving to Birmingham from Leeds on the eve of the raids and booking into hotels, but officers swooped to arrest him at a lock-up in Ashley Close, Edgbaston on July 9 as he collected the bike ahead of another suspected robbery.

Detectives secured CCTV evidence showing Chapman buying clothing and holdall bags matching those used during the attacks and after initially denying any involvement the 40-year-old later admitted being responsible.

And at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (January 8) he was jailed for 11 years four months. He will also be on licence for five years upon his release.

Chapman was jailed for 19 years in 2006 for an attempted robbery in Derbyshire and possessing guns and explosives.

It followed a police seizure of weapons including ten handguns, grenades and more than 1,000 bullets in a car at Felixstowe port which detectives believed were destined for gang members.

At the time of his arrest Chapman, who had family connections to Hillfields and lived at various addresses in Coventry, was wearing a £36,000 Rolex and driving a £170,000 Porsche.

But in 2008 West Midlands Police secured a Proceeds of Crime Acts order forcing him to pay back £145,000 in suspected criminal profits.

Det Insp Ben said they quickly linked the robberies and as Chapman had a history of similar offences he was identified as a potential suspect.

“We discovered Chapman was driving to Birmingham in his van the day before the robberies and then driving back to Leeds just after the robberies occurred.

“He tried covering his tracks by booking into hotels using his girlfriend’s details but CCTV showed he visited alone.

“We stopped Chapman in his tracks – there is no doubt he would have continued to offend.”

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