A masked robber who was caught when he accidentally flashed his distinctive forearm tattoo during a raid has been jailed.

Justin Stockbridge, 45, was part of a four-man gang who robbed convenience stores, bookies and taxi drivers in Watford and Three Rivers as well as London, Buckinghamshire, and Surrey.

All of the raids were carried out at night between October 6, 2018 and March 18 last year and they were armed with axes and knives.

Stockbridge, of Rickmansworth, was caught out while targeting a betting shop in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, when his tattoo was picked up on CCTV as he threatened the cashier with a knife.

He was convicted of one count of robbery at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday and jailed for seven years on Wednesday.

Hillingdon Times:

Justin Stockbridge

Fellow gang member Jamie Owen, 32, of Chipperfield, Hertfordshire, was jailed for 14 years after being convicted of three counts of robbery and one count of possession of a taser.

A third man, Richard Mazzuccato, 34, of Mill End, pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery at the same court in August last year and is due to be sentenced on April 28.

Paul Evans, 27, of no fixed address, previously admitted three counts of robbery and was jailed for 11 years and one month.

He was arrested midway through the gang's crime spree on December 4 2018.

Hillingdon Times:

Jamie Owen

The gang's spree began in October 2018, when Owen and Evans – identified by CCTV cameras – were picked-up by a taxi driver in King Street, Watford, and driven to Owens Way, Croxley Green.

Owen and Evans assaulted and used a taser on the taxi driver, making off with £80, before getting into a vehicle that was parked nearby.

The next two robberies also targeted cabbies, one in Church Lane, Sarratt, and the other in Surrey.

The drivers had knives held to their throats until they handed over cash, cards and mobile phones.

Hillingdon Times:

Richard Mazzuccato

The robbers then turned their attention to targeting convenience stores and betting shops, including a store which was robbed in New Road, Croxley Green, on November 3 2018.

They always covered their faces with a balaclava or hoodie and threatened staff with a weapon – normally a knife, although an axe was used during several of the robberies.

All four men were tracked down by members of the Metropolitan Police's Flying Squad through a combination of number plate tracing, cell site phone data analysis, forensics and CCTV.

When Stockbridge was arrested in April last year in Croxley Green, he was driving a van that was linked to the final robbery that took place in Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire.

Stockbridge and Mazzuccato had been drug addicts, with Mazzuccato telling the court his crack cocaine habit costs him £100 a day.

They were both charged on Friday, April 5 2019.

Owen was not tracked down until last summer because he had been jailed for four months for possession of a machete.

He was charged with the robberies on August 6.

Detective Sergeant Tim Fines, from Flying Squad, said: "I have no doubt that these suspects would have continued committing this horrific spate of robberies if they had not been identified and arrested.

"All of the robberies were terrifying ordeals for the victims - thankfully none of them suffered serious injuries during the attacks.

"These suspects were not afraid to use violence, often just for small amounts of cash."

He thanked officers from the Hertfordshire, Sussex, Surrey and Thames Valley constabularies for their assistance with the investigation.