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Gang sentenced for ATM explosion burglaries

News   •  Mar 17, 2017 16:45 GMT

[Image: Sonny Michael Hagland]

Four men who used a highly-dangerous explosive gas to break open over a dozen cash machines (ATMs) and steal over £300,000, have been sentenced to over fourteen years' imprisonment, today, 17 March.

James Anthony Whitlock, 32 (04.01.85) of Stapleford Close, Chelmsford, Essex pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit non-residential burglary and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years.

Sonny Michael Hagland, 26 (29.05.90) of Carnforth House, Petersfield Avenue, Harold Hill, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit non-residential burglar and was sentenced to five years.

Glenn Levi Friend, 26 (07.10.90) of Barnfield Road, Belvedere, Kent, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit non-residential burglary and was sentenced to three years.

Callum Jason Brown, 26 (17.11.90) of High Street, Hornchurch pleaded guilty to non-residential burglary and was sentenced to 20 months, suspended for two years.

The audacious series of offences, investigated by the Met's Flying Squad, took place between December 2015 and July 2016, primarily across north, east and south London.

The gang targeted establishments such as restaurants and convenience stores which had ATM machines on their premises.

Operating in the middle of the night, they broke into the rear of the premises, before using oxygen-acetylene gas 'cutters' to break open the cash machine from inside the building.

In total the gang stole over £300,000. On one occasion they set fire to the machine, and over £40,000 of banknotes were destroyed.

In addition, they broke into at least four residential properties to steal high-value vehicles, which they would fit with false number plates and use to get to and from crime scenes. On one occasion, they were confronted by a witness, who was chased away by members of the gang brandishing sticks.

DNA from tools left at the scene of one of the offences, as well as two of the vehicles used by the gang, was used to link the offences to the gang. Officers from the Met's Flying Squad launched an investigation and quickly established a link between the offences.

The gang's final offence took place in Birmingham on 30 July 2016, where they unsuccessfully attempted to break into an ATM situated inside a pizza restaurant. The gang were arrested a short time later on the M6.

DC Lewis Sanderson from the Met's Flying Squad, said:

"These men have showed a callous disregard for the safety of others. It is sheer good fortune that no-one was injured - or worse - as a result of their actions.

"They caused significant damage to a number of small businesses who housed the ATMs on their premises, causing great inconvenience to the local community and huge cost and distress to the business owners themselves.

"I am pleased that today they have been jailed for a significant period of time, reflecting the seriousness of the offences."