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Two brothers who robbed an Epping jewellers have been jailed for a combined total of 31 years after their DNA was found in latex face masks which were worn during the robbery.
Just before 11.30am on Monday 27 September 2021, two men arrived at the jewellery store in Epping High Street.
The pair were 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.
Several weeks later, officers from the Op Falcon team on patrol in Canvey Island stopped a vehicle.
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.
George Murphy-Bristow was arrested at the scene.
A forensic examination took place of saliva found inside the two masks, which identified DNA belonging to George 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.
Benjamin Murphy, 37, and George Murphy-Bristow, 28, both of Dewey Road, London N1, denied their part in the robbery when they first appeared at Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court on 22 June 2021.
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 an 18 year custodial sentence.
George Murphy-Bristow was convicted of robbery, two counts of possession of a bladed article, and going equipped for theft. He received a 13 year custodial sentence.
Leading the investigation, Detective Inspector 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.”
The watch, valued at £15,000 has never been recovered.