Sajjad Hussain led a double life. When he was not working hard at his job at an HSBC call centre, he was holding up banks! I guess you could say that is one way to use your annual leave. Sajjad described as a hardworking individual came from Salford, Manchester.
It was late in January 2019 last that he told his bosses at work one of his grandparents had died. That was a lie. Instead, Sajjad used that day’s compassionate leave to pursue his other career – as a bank robber. He took part in a cash-in-transit raid at the NatWest Bank in Halifax, reports The Manchester Evening News.
Four weeks earlier he had told his bosses that his wife was ill so he could take part in a robbery at a cash and carry in Longsight . But the robbery in West Yorkshire was to be the last of 11 carried out by the Oldham -based gang during a short but prolific crime spree.
The spree of robberies were:
1) Monday, November 26, 2018 – an attempted robbery at B&M Bargains, Yorkshire Street, Rochdale
2) Monday, November 26, 2018 – Worldwide Foods, Oldham. £18,865 stolen.
3) Monday, December 3, 2018 – Sports Direct, Oldham town centre.£13,720 stolen.
4) Monday, December 3, 2018 – Home Bargains, Clayton. £4,960 stolen.
5) Monday, December 10, 2018 – Brighthouse, The Rock, Bury. £2,639 stolen.
6) Monday, December 10, 2018 – Tesco, Silk Street, Rochdale. More than £8,050 stolen.
7) Monday, December 10, 2018 – McColls store, Broadstone Road, Reddish, Stockport. £3,850 stolen.
8) Monday, December 24, 2018 – Miller and Carter Steakhouse, Bury. Empty box was stolen.
9) Wednesday, December 26, 2018 – Next, Glossop. £8,500 stolen.
10) Wednesday, January 2, 2019 – Ahmed cash and carry, Longsight. £5,500 stolen.
11) Thursday, January 31, 2019 – Natwest, Halifax. £25,000 stolen.
Just before 11am on January 31st 2019 he and three accomplices ambushed a security guard delivering cash to the Waterhouse Street branch of the bank in the Yorkshire town.
After threatening him with a hammer they sped off in a stolen Golf with £25,000. But a rapid police response saw Hussain’s lucrative sideline unravel. The Golf was seen with no front number plate zipping past police who were searching for the vehicle.
In a desperate bid to escape the Golf went out of control at speed on a sharp bend in Oldham Road, Ripponden, and was left straddled over a bridge wall hanging 20ft above a river.
Three of the gang ran off and Hussain was left dazed in the the Golf. All four were captured near the crash scene.
It was the end of a two-month campaign in which the gang, wearing balaclavas and armed with hammers and mallets attacked security guards carrying cash in Rochdale , Oldham, Bury , Stockport, Glossop, and Manchester.
It started in late November 2018 with a failed attempt to rob a guard at B&M Bargains in Yorkshire Street. Before they were caught they netted more than £90,000 in total.
But they were taken down by GMP ‘s Operation Mowbray. Hussain’s partners in crime were Abubakir Iqbal, Anas Khan, and Shazad Mahmood.
Khan ran a salvage yard in Oldham which was the source of the getaway cars – usually an Audi or Volkswagen Golf.
After the crash in Yorkshire mobile phone evidence linked the gang to other robberies plus Smart Water forensic evidence on a saw found in the boot of the crashed Golf linked them to two other raids. In the boot were nine car number plates.
Some of the money was laundered through fixed odds betting machines at bookies. Some was “dry-cleaned” through a bookies in Ashton-under-Lyne but was recovered and the dye staining on it identified which robbery it was taken in.
One of the gang, Iqbal, would spend time and money in a specific way “as a kind of reward” after robberies went to plan.
Sgt Rick Castley, of GMP’s Serious and Organised Crime Group said: “One member of the group, Iqbal, after every robbery, or a series of robberies in one day, would travel to a massage parlour. Every time after a robbery Mr Iqbal needed to go and find love.”
Hussain also used the same massage parlour in Bury.
“Hussain would phone in sick to his place of work, give another excuse, or put in a request for leave, to do a robbery. On the last occasion regarding the Nat West robbery he said his grandmother had died. That was a lie. He was doing an armed robbery,” said Sgt Castley.
After a robbery at McColls store in Reddish, Stockport, in which £2,000 was stolen Hussain told his wife he was stuck in traffic, on his way home from work.
Hussain had told his bosses at HSBC that his wife was unwell on January 2nd 2019, so he could take part in a raid at Ahmed cash and carry in Longsight in which £5,500 was taken.
Sgt Crossley said: “These lads had got no previous convictions for armed robbery. They were not known for serious criminality like this. That was unusual.
Iqbal, of Countess Street, Accrington, and Hussain, of St James Road, Higher Broughton, Salford, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to rob but were convicted by a jury.
Mahmood, of Ascot House, Edward Street, Oldham, and Khan, of Landseer Street, Glodwick, Oldham, pleaded guilty. Khan also admitted handling stolen goods in relation to the raid on his salvage yard.
“Hussain gave a quite funny account. He claimed he was asleep and Iqbal said he had just travelled up there with Khan and Mahmood to get some food and it was only when they did a cash in transit robbery that he became suspicious.”