Jail for ATM explosion gang who targeted Northamptonshire villages' cash points

Left to right: Charlie Smith, Alfred Adams and John Doran. Bottom right: the scene after a Weedon supermarket ATM was targeted by the thieves
Left to right: Charlie Smith, Alfred Adams and John Doran. Bottom right: the scene after a Weedon supermarket ATM was targeted by the thieves

Three men have been sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for their part in a string of attacks on ATMs across Northamptonshire and neighbouring counties.

They used gas canisters to blow open the cash machines, before using power tools to gain access to the stores to get to the money – often making off with thousands of pounds.

The gang were charged for a burglary at the Co-Op in Bignal Court, Kettering on 21 November, with the judge also considering attacks at the Co-Op in Crick High Street on 4 October, the Spar in Raunds High Street on October 4, the Co-Op in Oundle Northants on 24 October and the Tesco in Weedon High Street on 1 November.

At Leicester Crown Court last week Charlie Smith, 31, of Mere Lane in Bitteswell, Lutterworth was sentenced to 10 years and seven months, Alfie Adams, 36, of Bickershaw Lane in Wigan was sentenced to 12 years, and John Doran, 20, of Gelderd Road in Gildersome, Leeds was sentenced to eight years and seven months.

Doran was also given an additional five-month sentence for breaching a suspended sentence.

All three previously admitted eight counts of burglary, three counts of unlawfully and maliciously causing an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property, and one count of theft.

On three occasions, the men used gas canisters to blow up the machines, allowing them to get to the cash inside.

Detective Chief Inspector Martin Smalley led the investigation. He said: “These three men caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage to stores across the region, taking a very blasé attitude to their own, and the public’s safety.

“The volatile gas mixtures they used to cause 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. 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.

“At the time of these incidents there was some criticism — an opinion that little action was being taken by the police — but this wasn’t the case. In the background a number of teams using a variety of tactics were working tirelessly to identify and arrest those responsible. From those responding to the live incidents, through to scene preservation and investigation, it’s been a massive undertaking both by the force with vital support from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit. It’s work we often don’t like to talk about, but rest assured this burglary series was a top priority.

“With the culprits now in prison for a very long time, we hope a sense safety and security has been returned to our communities.”

The charges relate to a number of attacks on ATM machines at businesses across Northamptonshire and neighbouring counties in October and November last year:
- Burglary at Kate’s Cabin, Great North Road, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, on 28 October
- Burglary at Post Office, George Street, Lutterworth, on 28 October
- Burglary at Shell Petrol Station, Brook Street, Tring, Hertfordshire, on 8 November
- Burglary at Co-Operative store, in Rockfield Road, Monmouth, Wales, on 8 November
- Burglary at Co-Operative store in Bignal Court, Kettering, Northamptonshire on 21 November
-Theft of motor vehicle in Nuneaton, Warkwickshire, between 20 November and 23 November
- Burgle and unlawfully and maliciously cause an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property at Co-operative store in Cosby, Leicestershire, on 21 November
- Burgle and unlawfully and maliciously cause an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property at Tesco Express, London Road in Hinckley, Leicestershire, on 22 November
- Burgle and unlawfully and maliciously cause an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property at Co-operative store in Burwell, Cambridgeshire, on 22 November

Other burglary offences taken into consideration took place in Coventry on 8 September, Lutterworth on 8 September, Kibworth on 27 September, Norfolk on 27 Sept 2017, Princes Risborough on 3 October, Countesthorpe on 4 October, Raunds, Northamptonshire on 4 October, Oundle Northants on 24 October; Oakham on 30 October, Hillmorton on 1 November, Gloucestershire on 10 November and Huntley in Gloucestershire on 10 November.

Doran and Adams also had a burglary at Tesco express, St Ives, on 13 November taken into consideration.