Three jailed for cash machine raids using gas canisters

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Cash machine damage
Image caption,
One of the cash machines to be attacked was at a Tesco Express in Hinckley

Three men who used gas canisters to break into cash machines and steal more than £1.5m have been jailed.

The trio admitted targeting cash machines in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Monmouthshire and Northamptonshire from August to November last year.

Leicester Crown Court heard they targeted 23 machines in just three months.

Police said the gang had a "very blasé attitude" to people's safety.

Media caption,

This is the moment a cash machine in Lutterworth was attacked

The court heard how the attacks carried out by Alfie Adams, 37, John Doran, 20, and Charlie Smith, 32, shook the houses of nearby residents and caused £800,000 of damage to businesses.

All three men pleaded guilty to eight counts of burglary and three counts of "unlawfully and maliciously causing an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property", contrary to Section 2 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

Image source, Leicestershire Police
Image caption,
Left to right: Charlie Smith, Alfie Adams and John Doran were all sentenced at Leicester Crown Court

Adams, of Bickershaw Lane in Wigan, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Doran, of Gelderd Road in Gildersome near Leeds, must serve nine years.

Smith, of Mere Lane in Bitteswell, Lutterworth, was handed a sentence of 10 years and seven months.

'Devastating consequences'

Det Ch Insp Martin Smalley, who led the investigation, said the "volatile gas mixtures" used to create the explosions "could have had devastating consequences".

"These crimes were very visible in the community, and the impact felt by residents and business owners was significant," he said.

"The reliance on these ATMs by such small rural communities was great, but the fear and discord caused by these attacks in what was often the heart of their village was much greater."

Judge Jinder Singh Boora said the trio was guilty of "systematic criminality" and called the men "bold and brazen".

He added: "You are obviously intelligent men. It's very sad that such intelligence has been utilised in this way."