Fareham man jailed for role in gang offences

FIVE MEN who were part of an audacious £1.2million conspiracy to burgle homes and blow up cash machines across Hampshire, Dorset and Surrey have been jailed for a combined total of more than 50 years; including a men from Fareham.

The gang’s brazen spree saw them steal high-powered cars, money, jewellery, motorbikes, bicycles and even a one-year-old French Bulldog – which thankfully was returned to its owners.

They also shamelessly put people’s lives at risk in a string of 14 attempted ATM explosions, successfully managing to take money from just three machines but causing a total of £255,928 in damages and losses.

During one of the ATM explosions, a family was asleep in the flat above where the fire was started, while another led to the evacuation of a student halls of residence in Southampton.

Guilty pleas in court

Ringleader David Patrick Hughes, 31, of Street End Close, Hook, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to steal, conspiring to burgle, and conspiring to cause an explosion. He was jailed for a total of seventeen years and was joined by the other four, who pleaded guilty to the following offences:

Cameron Chivers, 24, of Lydgate Road, Southampton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause an explosion, two counts of conspiracy to steal, and conspiracy to burgle. He was jailed for eight years and four months.

Colin Golding, 26, of Reading Road, Farnborough, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause an explosion, conspiracy to steal, and conspiracy to burgle. He was jailed for nine years.

Adam Jones, 31, of Little Abshot Road, Fareham, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause an explosion, two counts of conspiracy to steal, and conspiracy to burgle. Jones also pleaded guilty to failing to disclose a key contrary to Section 49 RIPA, namely failing to provide a PIN for a mobile phone. He was jailed for an overall total of thirteen and a half years for his crimes

Jesse Matthews, 21, of Coniston Road, Bordon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause an explosion and conspiracy to steal. He was jailed for six years and eight months

In a Hampshire Police statement it was said that all of Hughes, Jones, Chivers and Golding must serve at least two thirds of their sentences, whilst Matthews was ordered to serve half of his.

Gang would ‘meticulously plan the attacks’ – Court told

Winchester Crown Court heard the gang would meticulously plan the attacks on cash machines, stealing cars in the lead up to a job to use as getaway vehicles with any potential spoils.

When carrying out the attacks on the ATMs, they would break open the machine, before pumping gas in using a hose and then igniting it in the hope of causing a violent explosion to gain access to the money held inside. In the majority of instances, the men fled the scene empty-handed, with no explosion having occurred. However, the fires caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

And in one of the attacks, at a Tesco Express in Bishopstoke, when the ATM failed to explode, a stolen Land Rover Defender was unsuccessfully rammed into the ATM in an attempt to gain access, causing structural damage to the building as a result of the gang’s actions.

Following a series of dawn raids at addresses across the county, involving 150 officers, the men were arrested and charged for their involvement in the burglaries and explosions.

The 14 ATM incidents included one at HSBC, Park Gate, Fareham in August 2019 and another at the Co-Op store in Stubbington, Gosport in September that year. The other twelve crimes occurred around Southampton, Berkshire, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Eastleigh, Southampton and Farnham over nine-months from June 2019 to January 2020.

Conspiracy to steal and burgle

The conspiracy to steal charges also relate to three burglaries where high powered vehicles were stolen as getaway cars following the ATM attacks. These occurred across three separate locations including Southampton, Farnborough, and Hedge End.

Similarly the conspiracy to burgle charges relate to 31 burglaries which totalled value of goods stolen and damage caused at £375,000; with the gang targeting homes, commercial premises, and outbuildings, such as garages and sheds, including offences where the suspects broke into homes to steal car keys.

Ten of these offences occurred in Fareham (seven) and Gosport (three) in the later part of 2019 including a robbery at Clarks (Gosport Town Centre), whilst the other 21 happened in a range of locations across Hampshire such as Hythe, Eastleigh, Alton and Andover.

Sentencing the men on Friday (February 25) at Winchester Crown Court, Judge Angela Morris said: “None of you gave a moment’s thought to the danger you put those residents in or for the trauma they would suffer. This kind of offending involves the worst kind of criminality, motivated by unadulterated greed. This was only stopped by the intervention of the police.”

Judge Morris also commended the investigation team for their many long hours of work, linking together offences, accessing seized phones and using data to identify those involved and for supporting victims throughout the process leading to successful prosecutions

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Steve Court said: “These five men gave no thought for the residents of the homes they were burgling or the danger they were putting people in when exploding ATMs. Their only thought was to feed their own greed, no matter the cost, both monetary and emotionally, to the hard-working business owners whose properties they damaged, to the residents’ of the addresses they burgled, and to the family who thought they had lost their beloved pet.

“As an investigation team, we have dedicated many hours to tracking down the gang and ensuring we can prove their involvement. They thought they were above the law, that they could steal with impunity, but let this serve as a warning. We will catch you.”

Full details of the individual offences can be read here via the in-depth post-sentencing police statement.

PICTURED BY HAMPSHIRE POLICE: Scene of explosion at one of 14 offences affecting ATM banks