Family and friends leave extravagant tributes to armed robber who died in Norwich prison

PUBLISHED: 12:34 23 January 2012 | UPDATED: 14:10 23 January 2012

Thomas Curtis

Thomas Curtis

Tributes including a replica cash machine and a Post Office sign have been left next to the grave of an armed robber who died earlier this month.

Thomas Curtis, 29, was part of a violent and ruthless gang which carried out ram-raids and robberies on post offices and shops across East Anglia.

The father-of-two was jailed for his part in the year-long spree which saw property and cash worth more than £1 million stolen across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

He was freed five years into a 12-year sentence, but was found dead in his cell on January 2 after being recalled to prison on breaching the terms of his release.

Among the other tributes left at his grave at the cemetery in Elm, near Wisbech, include a floral replica can of tax-dodging red diesel, a £20 note, booze bottles, and a giant cigarette pack.

Curtis and his six-strong gang armed themselves with sawn-off shotguns, baseball bats, pickaxe handles and sledgehammers to carry out the robberies.

A total of 32 robberies, 67 cashpoint thefts, 42 smash-and-grabs and 126 vehicle thefts were linked to the gang.

Curtis and five others were jailed in 2006 for a total of 74 years after admitting conspiracy to commit armed robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and burglary at Ipswich Crown Court in 2006.

Curtis was found dead in his cell at Norwich prison at 5.45am on January 2. He was pronounced dead at 6.10am.

It is understood that Curtis had not been identified as a prisoner at risk of suicide or self harm and an investigation is under way.

Curtis’s family have since claimed he died after medication was taken from him when he arrived at Norwich Prison last month.

His widow Edna has also previously spoken warmly of the man who had turned his life around while serving his sentence at North Sea Camp, near Boston.

Speaking earlier this month, she said: “Words cannot describe what the family is going through. Tom was the heart and soul of the family, our rock. He was a very good dad to his two children.

“I have a massive folder at home of certificates he achieved in prison that we are very proud of.

“He worked at an old people’s home in Boston while serving his time. He got on with everybody there and if any job needed doing he was the one who did it. Everybody there liked him.”

She later added: “Tom may have served a sentence for a crime and serve it he has. He was only human and we all make mistakes.

“You couldn’t ask for a better brother and we feel he should be remembered for the positives, not just the negatives.”

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