Three men responsible for a series of cash machine gas explosions in seven different locations have been jailed for a combined total of 53 years.
Joel Spears 31 of Becket Close, Wimbledon, and Ermias Fekade 36 of Hove, Sussex, were found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions and steal after a six-week trial at Croydon Crown Court.
The pair were sentenced on April 18, along with Stephen Fahri, 36, of Brighton, who had previously pleaded guilty to the same offence.
Spears was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, Fekade 16 years and Fahri 17 years.
The men were caught as a result of an investigation by the Met’s Flying Squad into a linked series of cash machine thefts between January and April 2017.
The explosions caused by the gang were uncontrolled and, in most of the incidents, caused a considerable amount of damage to nearby buildings, including post offices and petrol stations.
The total amount stolen was £148,250 and the value of damage caused and repair costs as a result of the explosions was £150,466.97.
The gang also used high-powered stolen vehicles with stolen number plates and wore balaclavas to conceal their identities.
Detectives linked the gang to the offences through CCTV, mobile phone records and forensic evidence.
All three were arrested on April 20 after an attempt to explode a cash machine inside a post office in Tunbridge Wells.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Blackburn, of the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “The lengthy sentences handed out by the judge reflect the high-risk nature of the offending.
“These defendants caused extensive damage to the cash machines but also the surrounding buildings which included residential premises.”
As the offences were carried out across a number of police areas, the Flying Squad was assisted by the work of Safercash, a not-for-profit intelligence-sharing initiative.
Sarah Staff from Safercash said: “The outcome of this investigation is an excellent example of the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad’s dedication and ability to tackle serious and organised crime at the highest level.”
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