TWO years of dogged detective work linked three men to one of Herefordshire's biggest robberies.

The three now face long prison sentences, caught out by fingerprints and their own alibis.

One of the men was convicted last week of his part in the attack that netted more than £30,000. The other two admitted robbery at an earlier hearing.

Worcester Crown Court heard how Neil Bateman, a 60-year-old organiser of classic car shows, was ambushed and overpowered by three masked men outside his Bodenham home in April, 2004. They snatched the takings from an event Mr Bateman had organised in Derbyshire that weekend.

Most of the money was in Mr Bateman's camper van, another £1,000 was in a pouch the robbers ripped from around his waist.

Detectives found the fingerprints of Sirfraze Ahmed on a black plastic bag left at the scene, used as a makeshift hood. Ahmed, aged 31, from Cotteridge, Birmingham, was found guilty of robbery.

The jury was asked to determine, on the evidence, just what Ahmed's role was in the robbery. They decided that he played a part in the preparations.

Deputy Circuit Judge Michael Mott remanded Ahmed in custody for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

Khalid Khan, 30, and his 27-year-old brother Mohammed, both of Nechells, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to robbery before the trial began and are also in custody.

The brothers also denied being at the scene but admitted supplying items used in the robbery, said prosecutor John Butterfield.

Mr Butterfield said the Crown Prosecution Service rejected those admissions. A judge will now have to rule on the Khans' roles after hearing evidence.

All three men are due to be sentenced together on November 10.

Ahmed said, in evidence, that he helped Khalid Khan fix cars in a shed at the home shared by the brothers. His fingerprints must have got on the bag when he touched it while it was on a car seat to stop oil stains.