How gang that blew up cash machines was caught

By Steven Brocklehurst
BBC Scotland news website

Media caption,
The gang used oxy-acetylene canisters to cause an explosion

A seven-man gang that blew up cash machines across the UK, including four in Scotland, stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds, have been handed jail sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

During their year-long crime spree 13 banks and shops were targeted, with some ATMs blown up using "powerful explosives" and others being dragged away by stolen cars and attacked with high-powered tools to access the cash.

The gang's getaways were compared to blockbuster movies such as Fast and Furious and the Italian Job after they made off at high-speed in stolen performance cars which were then hidden in a lorry that doubled as a hangout for the criminals to lie low.

Image caption,
The gang's last attack was at the Co-op in Carnoustie in February 2016
Image caption,
The robbers used a Land Rover to drag the ATM from the shop

It was an attack on a cash machine at a Co-op in Carnoustie in Angus in February 2016 that proved to be the gang's last.

They hauled the ATM out of the wall with a stolen Land Rover before seizing £16,000 in cash.

Hours after the robbery an off-duty police officer spotted a suspicious car seven miles away in Arbroath.

Image caption,
Shocked diners witnessed the gang being arrested in the car park of McDonald's in Arbroath
Image caption,
Five men were arrested in the raid at the McDonald's in Arbroath

As shocked diners looked on, armed police swooped on the car park at the town's McDonald's.

Five men, all from the Merseyside area, were arrested after the police fired tyre deflation rounds at the gang's Mercedes as they tried to get away.

In the weeks leading up to the arrests, detectives in Scotland and England were already closing in on the gang.

Image caption,
The gang raided the cash machine at Kingswells in Aberdeen in August 2015

CCTV from a nearby industrial estate picked up a rendezvous between a lorry and high-performance car as the gang headed back to England.

Image caption,
CCTV picked up a rendezvous between a lorry and a high-performance car

Det Supt Alex Dowall told BBC Scotland: "We became aware that the group actually had access to a stolen HGV and they were using high-powered motor cars to commit these crimes."

The gang had hammocks in the back of the HGV so they could use it as a portable base and additional fuel so they did not need to be seen going to service stations.

The lorry, which was traced to a yard in Wigan, also had gas equipment, power tools and ramps to drive a stolen Audi in and out.

Image caption,
The lorry had ramps in it so high-powered cars could drive in and out
Image caption,
The gang used the lorry as a portable base, complete with hammocks for sleeping in

Det Supt Dowall said: "They were transporting the Audi within the HGV in order to not draw attention to themselves travelling the length and breadth of the country."

He said the gang were "highly organised" and came up with "pretty ingenious" ways to avoid detection.

"They had even cut out a small area within the outer skin of the HGV covers to allow them access in and out without drawing attention to themselves by opening the rear of the lorry," the detective said.

The gang's technique for blowing up the ATMs involved running oxy-acetylene canisters directly into the cash machine and igniting the gas with a spark from a car battery.

In total, the robbers stole £550,000, including £110,000 from four raids in Scotland.

They raided cash machines in Sonnings Common and Woodstock, Oxfordshire; Alsager and Culcheth, Cheshire; Huyton, Merseyside; Hucclecote, Gloucestershire; Swindon, Wiltshire; Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk; as well as in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Carnoustie, and Perth.

They stole a £56,000 Audi RS4 from a house in Garthdee, Aberdeen, in May 2015.

A month later they took £51,000 from a cash machine at a Tesco Express in Newtonhill, Aberdeenshire.

The Kingswells Co-op raid in August resulted in £16,000 and in January 2016 the gang stole £27,000 from a Co-op in Perth.

The police said there did not seem to be a pattern to the places targeted in the raids.

They said the techniques they used were extremely risky and it was fortunate no-one was hurt.

Image source, Merseyside Police
Image caption,
Clockwise from top left: Anthony White, Anthony Conroy, Andrew White, Nanu Miah, Michael Galea, Gary Carey, Carl Cavanagh

The gang and their sentences:

  • Andrew White, 28, of Exeter Street, St Helens, was sentenced to 19 years imprisonment with a further two years on licence. White pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and was found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions.
  • Anthony White, 26, of Kingswood, Huyton, was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to cause explosions.
  • Nanu Miah, 28, of Sparkbrook, Birmingham, was sentenced to life imprisonment. He will be only eligible to apply for parole after a minimum of nine years. Miah pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary and was found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions.
  • Anthony Conroy, 29, of Wavertree Vale, Wavertree, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Conroy pleaded guilty to both offences.
  • Carl Cavanagh, 33, of Barford, Huyton, was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. Cavanagh pleaded guilty to both offences.
  • Michael Galea, 41, of Gregson Road, Prescot, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Galea was found guilty of both offences.
  • Gary Carey, 40, of Burford Road, Liverpool, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment to commence at the completion of his current sentence. Carey was found guilty of conspiracy to cause an explosion.

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