Finsbury Park robber was out on licence for shooting two police officers in earlier raid

Derek Rossi

Derek Rossi - Credit: Archant

A bungling armed robber who held up a bookmakers with a sawn off shotgun hidden in an umbrella was serving two life sentences for shooting two police officers, it emerged last week.

Derek Rossi, 58, of Lennox Road, Finsbury Park, was caught after he dropped his gun and took off his balaclava to pick it up a hold-up at Ladbrokes in Holborn on November 4.

The career criminal was on parole serving two life sentences handed down in 1984 and 2001 for terrifying shooting sprees in London and Bristol, which included shooting at two police officers.

In the attempted robbery at Ladbrokes, he held up one of the employees at gunpoint, demanding she handed over the cash in tills and the safe. When she explained she didn’t have access, he fled the scene on his bike, dropping his gun and discharging it twice along the way.

In the meantime, another terrified member of staff had managed to flee the shop and call police. Rossi was arrested later that day in Blackstock Road, after being identified on CCTV.

Rossi was given his third life sentence on Friday and ordered to serve a minimum 12 years today at Blackfriars Crown Court after pleading guilty to attempted robbery and possession of a firearm and ammunition at an earlier date.

Judge Peter Clarke apologised to the two victims Ann Fairbrass and Hannah Bjorkvall-Green who were working in the bookmakers at the time.

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He said: “They will be wondering how it is that Rossi could have entered their betting shop where they worked when he was the subject of not one but two sentences of life imprisonment for attempting to murder police officers and members of the public while committing robberies.

“They deserve an explanation. I’m not here to defend the decision of the parole board and it is one they, no doubt, find hard to understand given what has happened to them.

“I wish to apologise to them on behalf of the criminal justice system for placing them in that position.”

Det Insp Scott Hartley of the Flying Squad said: “This was a terrifying attack committed in broad daylight and Rossi gave no thought to his victims and what he put them through. They have been left traumatised by the event of having a shotgun pointed at them and they both feared for their lives.

“Rossi showed an utter disregard for the victims and I can only but praise them for coming forward and assisting us with our investigation to ensure that he is put behind bars.

“A dangerous criminal will now serve a significant prison sentence, one that reflects the seriousness this offence.”