by Keith Hunt
A ram raider who smashed his way into a petrol station shop late at night managed to steal just £239 worth of cigarettes, but caused almost £5,500 worth of damage, a court heard.
Ricky Morgan rammed Iden Park Garage in Staplehurst in a stolen Daihatsu Sportstrack 4x4 car with bull bars on September 23.
Now, the 23-year-old roofer, of White Horse Lane, Otham, has been jailed for three years two months after admitting burglary.
Maidstone Crown Court heard there was no cash on the premises when the 12.30am raid was committed on the closed garage in the quiet village.
Judge James O’Mahony said: "It was not the most sophisticated or carefully planned ram raid."
Police traced Morgan through DNA found on a hammer.
Judge O’Mahony said ram raids were regarded by the courts as outrageous offences and an affront to society.
"Getting into a vehicle and crashing it into premises is something akin to an illegal military operation," he told Morgan.
"You used a powerful vehicle with a reinforced front, as if it was a machine that crashed into the premises. The damage done was considerable.
"The only thing one can say on this matter is it was not, perhaps, a sophisticated operation. But you got your lousy cigarettes as a result of the awful thing you did."