Securitas raider returns just £1 of record £53million haul but still wins open jail move

A notorious criminal who took part in Britain’s biggest cash heist has won a move to an open prison, despite paying back just £1.

Lea Rusha, 48, was sentenced to life for his part in the £53million Securitas raid, but had a parole hearing earlier last month after serving his minimum sentence of 15 years.

The Parole Board recommended a move to a less harsh open jail, despite hearing Rusha had only paid back £1 to comply with a 2010 confiscation order.

It followed a hearing in which Rusha gave evidence and highlighted his good behaviour in prison after being convicted over two
trials in 2007 and 2008.

The transfer has yet to be rubber-stamped by the Ministry of Justice, but Rusha could be moved within weeks.

A source said: “He is over the moon as he half expected to be refused any sort of move.

“Rusha knows being transferred to an open prison is a step nearer to being released under licence. He is determined to keep his head down, do his time and show that he can be trusted in an open prison.”

The dad-of-two, of Southborough, Kent, was one of 14 balaclava-clad gunmen to seize £53,116,760 during the raid in 2006.

Rusha and cage fighter Lee Murray posed as police officers to abduct depot manager Colin Dixon, his wife and their child.

Rusha was disguised using prosthetics and a fake ginger beard.

Security footage showed the gang brandishing weapons as they threatened to kill site workers if they did not cooperate. The mob also tied up staff.

Rusha was among five men found guilty of the robbery at a 2008 Old Bailey trial.

He claimed he was having a curry with a friend on the night of the raid, but failed to explain the balaclavas, guns, depot plans and a night vision scope that were later found at his home.

When asked why he thought he was in the dock, Rusha blamed “bad luck”.

Around £21million has been found since the raid on a Bank of England cash depot in Tonbridge, Kent, but more than £30million is still missing.

In 2016, Paul Allen – described as the enforcer to raid mastermind Lee Murray – was freed despite paying back £420 of the £1.9million he is thought to have pocketed.

Murray is now serving 25 years in a Moroccan jail for drug dealing. Just £1 each was recovered from fellow robbers Jetmir Bucpapa and Roger Coutts.

The Parole Board said: “We will only make a recommendation for open conditions if a panel is satisfied the risk to the public has reduced sufficiently to be manageable in an open prison.

“A move to open conditions involves testing the prisoner’s readiness for any potential return into the community.

“Prisoners moved to open conditions can be returned to closed conditions if there is concern about their behaviour.

“Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public. Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.”