'Brash, close-knit' criminal gang sentenced after targeting ATM's across the UK

Mugshots of criminals in Leicestershire
Most of the gang were based in Leicestershire -Credit:Leicestershire Police

Seven people from Leicestershire have been sentenced for their roles in a “close-knit” gang that targeted cash machines across the UK. Police said the group “attacked at the very heart of the community” by stealing cash and committing more than £1 million worth of damage and vehicle theft.

Leicestershire Police said that an investigation led by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit revealed that since March 2021, 17 attacks were committed by the “brash but technically skilled” gang on ATM’s across England, Wales and Scotland. The force said that more than £600,000 in cash was stolen.

It said the gang was found to be using two methods of attack, depending upon the type of automated teller. If it was standalone, they would use a stolen van and straps to rip it from the ground.

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They would then steal the contents and make off in a stolen high-powered vehicle bearing false registration plates. The force said for those machines situated in a building, the gang would use power tools or vehicles to smash through doors, then use a drill and other tools to access the cash inside the ATM.

It said most of those responsible were based in Leicestershire, with a “key contact” in Scotland to enable a number of attacks across the border. It said the attacks were coordinated by a core group of three – Patrick Gilheaney (34), formerly of Griggs Road, Loughborough, John Smith (32) formerly of Spalding, Lincolnshire and Tali Smith (34) formerly of Barlestone Road in Bagworth, Leicestershire – who then used partners, relatives and other associates in an ‘on-call’ capacity to ensure the criminal operation ran smoothly.

EMSOU detective chief inspector Darren Brown said: “This was a brash but technically skilled organised group, which found strength as a close-knit, omni-competent criminal community, operating under a clear leadership. On the face of it, this type of crime may seem victimless, but in attacking ATMs this group have attacked at the very heart of the community.

“Residents were left without a local means of accessing their cash. Many of these attacks also left vital community conveniences, such as Post Offices, petrol stations and ‘corner’ shops out of action while they were repaired.”

The gang were sentenced at Leicester Crown Court yesterday (Friday May 10), Leicestershire Police said they had previously pleaded guilty to a “range of offences." Gilheaney and John Smith were each sentenced to seven years and six months in prison, while Tali Smith was sentenced to six years and eight months.

All three were convicted of conspiracy to commit a non-dwelling burglary with intent to steal and conspiracy to steal from another. Alfie Boswell (32) formerly of Barlestone Road in Bagworth was sentenced to five years for conspiracy to steal and assisting an offender.

William Boswell (24) and formerly of Barlestone Road in Bagworth, Leicestershire was sentenced to three years imprisonment for conspiracy to steal. Sarah Haynes (35) also formerly of Barlestone Road in Bagworth, Leicestershire, Victoria Smith (35) formerly of Evergreen Close in Spalding, Lincolnshire, Rosie McAllister, (28) formerly of Barlestone Road in Bagworth, Leicestershire and Francis Gilheaney (aka Kathleen Connors) (33) formerly of Griggs Road in Loughborough were all given 12 month sentences suspended for two years for assisting an offender.

Gordon McPhee (37) and formerly of Peters Lane in Pumpherston, Edinburgh, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit a non-dwelling burglary with intent to steal and conspiracy to steal from another after a trial in February, Leicestershire Police said. He was sentenced to six years.

The force said that while little of the cash stolen during these raids was recovered by police, EMSOU will now pursue the gang under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to establish how much they made from their criminality and seek court orders to re-coop it from them so it can be reinvested into community safety initiatives.