'Outrageous' gang blew up 18 ATMs and stole horse racing trophies
Watch: Criminal gang jailed for blowing up ATMs in 'audacious' raids
Six members of an organised crime gang who blew up cash machines have been jailed for a total of 74 years.
The professional thieves exploded 18 ATMs over the period of a year and stole £100,000 by dragging the machines out using high-powered 4x4 vehicles, Oxford Crown Court heard.
They also stole 10 trophies from the National Horse Racing Museum in Newmarket, including the £75,000 Ascot Gold Vase.
The members of the gang, named "James 'Jimmy' Sheen's firm", were sentenced on Friday to a total of 74 years in prison.
Police called their offending "outrageous, dangerous and audacious".
Judge Michael Gledhill QC labelled the Newmarket heist, carried out by three members of the gang, as the "most audacious in this lengthy list".
In May and June 2020, the gang also stole expensive agricultural machinery and arranged through a foreign contact to have them taken abroad. In one night alone, they stole almost £400,000 worth of tractors.
Judge Gledhill described the thefts as "committed and professional" but condemned their attitude to life, which he described as "if it is there to be taken, we're entitled to it".
He described the gang's desire "to obtain as much money as possible as quickly as possible, avoiding detection by the police and other authorities".
He told the gang: “You were completely indifferent to the effect of your actions on others, indifferent to the risk of injury from the explosions, indifferent to the cost of repairing the damage, indifferent to the financial loss to the owners of the buildings and the ATM machines.
“You were not the least bit concerned as to the effect of the disruption to businesses, the effect of your crimes on the staff the loss to the insurance companies and the loss of amenities to members of the public.
“You couldn’t care less. The attitude of each of you was fully focused on yourselves. Your attitude was, ‘What can I make out of the offending and how can I avoid being caught?’
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“You each chose to be a party to this serious organised crime group. Yes, you each played a different role in the organisation or group and a different role in the offences you committed but you all chose to participate. Not one of you was forced to take part."
He said the men had brought "shame and disgrace’" on themselves, their families and the travelling community of which they "said they were proud members".
The leader of the gang, James Sheen, 37, of Warren Crescent, Headington, was jailed for 17 years and four months.
Sheen admitted conspiracy to cause explosions, conspiracy to burgle, burgling the Newmarket Horse Racing Museum, theft of a Land Cruiser, attempted theft of a Mitsubishi, using a stolen BMW and conspiracy to steal plant machinery.
He has previous convictions for dishonesty and in 2010 was sentenced to 14 years in prison for a drive-by shooting.
David Riley, 26, from Linkfield Lane, Redbridge, was jailed for 17 years and three months.
He admitted conspiracy to cause explosions, conspiracy to burgle, the Newmarket burglary, theft and handling stolen plant machinery. He also admitted having a mobile phone in prison.
Frenny Green, 33, a hired hand of no fixed address, was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison for his four nights' worth of involvement in the conspiracy.
Shane Harris, 32, from Hughes Close, Charlbury, admitted conspiracy to burgle.
Jailing him for three years and four months, the judge said: “Learn your lesson and never come before these courts again.”
Jimmy Loveridge, 30, from Chertsey Road, Chobham, was jailed for 14 years and three months.
Loveridge pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle, conspiracy to steal plant machinery, attempted theft, using criminal property and the Newmarket Museum burglary.
Paul Smith, 30, from Hearmon Close, Yateley, was sentenced to 11 years and four months in prison.
Smith was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle, attempted theft and using a stolen BMW. He admitted conspiracy to steal plant machinery.
Thames Valley Police said the men were part of an organised crime gang (OCG) codenamed Solar, which the force said "wreaked havoc across several counties" across a 12-month period.
Police said the gang used explosive gases and flammable liquids to carry out their ATM raids.
Senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Aidan Donohoe said: “Jimmy Sheen and this OCG caused great pain to local communities with their outrageous, dangerous and audacious offending.
“This was an OCG that wreaked havoc across both the Thames Valley and surrounding forces.
“Our investigation and these subsequent convictions mean this OCG has been completely dismantled.
“Its members were charged and remanded, and all six were convicted of some of the most serious offences you can imagine."