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Gang of bank robbers jailed after blowing up ATM machine in Sevenoaks

By Annabel Rusbridge-Thomas

A gang of bank robbers has been jailed after using a gas explosion to blow up a cash machine in Kent.

The charges followed three offences committed during November 2013 when branches of Barclays across the county were targeted.

Danny Smith, 30, of High Street, Sheerness; Gary Smith, 39 of Norton Crescent, Tonbridge' Luke Cassidy, 28, of Tonbridge Road, Maidstone, Jason Robert Selwood, 30, of Welland Road, Tonbridge; Lee Spinks, 28 of Foxgrove Avenue, Beckenham; have together been jailed for a combined total of more than 30 years.

The bank robbers blew up an ATM using a mixture of gas and stole £19,000

An explosion took place at the Riverhead branch of the Barclays Bank in Sevenoaks on Friday November 1, 2013 at 2.13am.

Police attended after being alerted that the bank's security systems had been breached.

The ATM machine was found attached to the front of the bank was severely damaged and the bank had been entered.

It was found the robbers had stolen £19,000 and caused structural damage to the building.

The men were caught on camera using gas to blow up the ATM

CCTV footage seized from the bank revealed a number of men placing tools around the store before gas canisters were attached to the ATM machine and used to cause an explosion.

A hooded man then smashed his way into the bank with a sledgehammer - he was quickly followed by a second man wearing a baseball cap.

The incident lasted around 20 minutes before the men fled in a 3 Series BMW estate.

Danny Smith, 30, of Portland House, High Street, Sheerness
Jason Robert Selwood, 30, of Welland Road, Tonbridge

In mid November, detectives from the Metropolitan Police Service Flying Squad began working alongside Kent detectives to identify and arrest the gang responsible for the attack in an operation code named Operation Amplum.

On Thursday, November 21, 2013, staff at the Borough Green branch of Barclays Bank noticed the ATM machine was not working.

During review of the footage, they found two men were captured at 2.22am tampering with the machine and appeared to be poking a large hose connected to a gas canister.

Luke Cassidy, 28 of Tonbridge Road, Maidstone
Lee Spinks, 28, of Waverley House, Foxgrove Avenue, Beckenham

Enquiries into Spinks' movements found that during October he was in contact with a number of companies that supply gas cylinders for legitimate purposes. These were the same type used to cause the explosion on November 1, 2013.

Officers also established Spinks and Smith travelled together during November when they purchased head torches and Velcro straps that were also the same kind used in the offence on November 21, 2013.

Spinks was arrested by officers on November 11, 2013. He made no comment to all questions put to him. He was charged and remanded in custody.

Gary Smith, 39, of Norton Crescent, Tonbridge

On Thursday, November 28, 2013 at 2.35am, detectives from the flying squad saw a Nissan Note and an Audi A3 entering Borough Green.

The Audi pulled off the main road and began roaming the approach roads to the village while the Nissan went to the village branch of Barclay's.

Gary Smith and Luke Cassidy - who were wearing balaclavas, head torches and carrying gas canisters - were observed walking towards the bank. At this point, they were arrested by detectives from the Flying Squad.

"This was an organised group of criminals who used an elaborate method to steal money from the bank..." - DI Mark Bedford

Various items were found placed outside the bank - including a sledgehammer, a wrecking bar and gas canisters.

Danny Smith was arrested shortly afterwards driving the Nissan. He was found to be wearing one latex glove and one fabric glove.

Jason Selwood was arrested at 3.15am by uniformed officers from Kent Police driving the Audi towards Tonbridge.

DI Mark Bedford, from the MPS Flying Squad, said: "This was an organised group of criminals who used an elaborate method to steal money from the bank.

"However the Flying Squad worked alongside our Kent colleagues to mount a quick-time proactive operation to identify and arrest them.

"I am confident that today’s guilty pleas are due to the quality of the evidence built up against them.

"I would like to thank all the officers involved in this investigation from the MPS and Kent who worked around the clock to bring to a swift conclusion the activities of a dangerous criminal gang."

The men pleaded guilty at Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday July 15.

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