Two brothers robbed a jewellery store disguised as elderly people with “extremely life-like latex masks”.
The pair threatened terrified staff with a hatchet and a knife before fleeing the scene. However, the pair were later found with the masks during a stop-and-search by police.
Just before 11.30am on Monday, September 27, 2021, George Murphy-Bristow, 28, and Benjamin Murphy, 37, raided the high street jewellers in Epping, Essex, while armed with the weapons.
They arrived at the jewellery store wearing extremely life-like, full-face latex masks, giving them the appearance of elderly gentlemen. They gained access to the store after threatening staff to let them in.
Once inside, they ushered a staff member to the office where they tied them to a chair with cable ties before removing a valuable Rolex watch from their wrist. The duo, brandishing a knife and a hatchet axe, searched the staff area before the alarm was raised and the men fled the scene in a vehicle that was parked outside. The Rolex watch, valued at £15,000, has never been recovered.
Several weeks later, officers from Essex Police’s Op Falcon team on patrol in Canvey Island stopped a vehicle, reports Essex Live. The driver of this car was George Murphy-Bristow and in the boot were two full-face masks and clothing of identical appearance as those worn by the suspects in the robbery. Also found was a black duffel bag containing a hatchet, knife and cable ties.
Murphy-Bristow was arrested at the scene. A forensic examination took place of saliva found inside the two masks, which identified DNA belonging to Murphy-Bristow and his older brother Benjamin Murphy, linking them to the robbery. The brothers were arrested at separate locations on 21 June last year and refused to answer any questions during their respective interviews.
Both men were charged with robbery and possession of a bladed article and were remanded in custody. Murphy and Murphy-Bristow, both of Dewey Road, London, denied their part in the robbery when they first appeared at Southend Magistrates’ Court on June 22 that year.
Following a three-day trial at Basildon Crown Court, it took a jury just over an hour to find the brothers guilty. Ben Murphy was found guilty of robbery and two counts of possession of a bladed article. He received 18 years in jail. George Murphy-Bristow was convicted of robbery, two counts of possession of a bladed article, and going equipped for theft and was jailed for 13 years.
Det Insp Yoni Adler of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit said: “Benjamin Murphy and his brother George Murphy-Bristow planned this robbery, to use masks that would help them avoid detection. But it was the forensic examination amongst other detailed Detective work & proactive Policing that proved the pair were directly linked to the robbery.
“I want to thank the store’s staff for supporting our investigation following an undoubtedly frightening incident, but I hope that they can now move on.”