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Gang who raided cash machines in Kent and Essex jailed


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Five men who formed part of an organised criminal gang involved in cash machine raids have been jailed for a combined total of over 22 years.

Appearing before Woolwich Crown Court today, ringleader 55-year-old Adrian Gowers of Derwent Way, Rainham, was sentenced to seven years and two months in prison.

Adrian Gowers. Picture: Kent Police
Adrian Gowers. Picture: Kent Police

He had previously admitted being involved in five incidents reported across Kent and Essex between February and July 2019.

Phillip Barnard, 25, of High Street, Chelmsford, David Eves, 48, of Larch Road, Dartford, John Lee, 49, of New Waverley Road, Basildon, and Billy John Lee, 28, also of New Waverley Road, Basildon, each admitted conspiring to steal cash machines.

The group were responsible for causing £704,691 in damage to businesses. They also stole vehicles and tools worth £32,185.

The five were arrested following an investigation by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

During the early hours of Monday, July 22, 2019, they targeted a cash machine in Brentwood Road, Essex.

Machine in the back of the van. Picture: Kent Police (28093373)
Machine in the back of the van. Picture: Kent Police (28093373)

A stolen digger was used to pull the ATM from the side of the building, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage in the process.

The men were travelling away in a van with stolen number plates when they were stopped and arrested.

Officers recovered more than £100,000 of cash from a van, specially adapted with a hole in the roof to allow for the cash machine to be dropped into it quickly.

Detectives were able to link individual members of the gang to four similar thefts in Kent:

An attempted theft in Hopeville Avenue, Broadstairs, on Sunday, February 24.

The theft of a cash machine from a supermarket in Longfield Road, Tunbridge Wells, on Thursday, April 4.

An incident on Monday, May 20, at Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre, Gillingham, in which a cash machine was stolen.

An attempted theft from Watchgate, Lane End, Dartford on Wednesday, July 10.

Barnard was jailed for three years and seven months and John Lee for five years and nine months.

Eves was sentenced to two years and three months and Billy Lee jailed for three years and seven months.

Det Insp James Derham of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "These men had absolutely no regard for the damage their crimes had on the communities they targeted.

"They put the public in danger with their reckless actions, crippled businesses, caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage and stole plant machinery which prevented businesses from moving forward with building works.

"In short, their selfish actions had severe consequences for many people including the local communities who relied upon these facilities.

"The officers involved in the case worked with sheer tenacity to painstakingly piece together the movements of those involved and other key evidence, leaving these men with no other option but to admit their part in the conspiracy."

The damage caused during the Dartford raid. Picture: Kent Police
The damage caused during the Dartford raid. Picture: Kent Police

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