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Harold Hill and Hornchurch men convicted of exploding cash machines and stealing more than £300k

PUBLISHED: 17:17 17 March 2017

Sonny Michael Hagland. Picture: Met Police

Sonny Michael Hagland. Picture: Met Police

Met Police

Four men who used a highly-dangerous explosive gas to break open cash machines and steal more than £300,000, have been sentenced to more than 14 years in prison today.

Callum Jason Brown. Picture: Met Police Callum Jason Brown. Picture: Met Police

Sonny Michael Hagland, 26, of Carnforth House, Petersfield Avenue, Harold Hill, and Callum Jason Brown, 26, of High Street, Hornchurch, were two members of the gang.

The series of offences, investigated by the Met’s Flying Squad, took place between December 2015 and July 2016, primarily across north, east and south London.

The gang targeted establishments such as restaurants and convenience stores which had ATM machines on their premises.

They would break into the rear of the premises in the middle of the night, before using oxygen-acetylene gas “cutters” to break open the cash machine from inside the building.

In total, the gang stole more than £300,000.

On one occasion they set fire to the machine, and more than £40,000 of banknotes were destroyed.

They also broke into at least four homes to steal high-value vehicles which they would fit with false number plates and use to get to and from crime scenes.

Once, they were confronted by a witness who was chased away by members of the gang brandishing sticks.

DNA from tools left at the scene of one of the offences, as well as two of the vehicles used by the gang, was used to link the offences to the gang.

Officers from the Met’s Flying Squad launched an investigation and quickly established a link between the offences.

The gang’s final offence took place in Birmingham on July 30 2016, where they unsuccessfully attempted to break into an ATM situated inside a pizza restaurant.

The gang were arrested a short time later on the M6.

Hagland pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit non-residential burglary and was sentenced to five years.

Brown also pleaded guilty to non-residential burglary and was sentenced to 20 months, suspended for two years.

James Anthony Whitlock, 32, of Chelmsford, and Glenn Levi Friend, 26, of Kent, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit non-residential burglary.

Whitlock was sentenced to four-and-a-half years and Friend three years.

DC Lewis Sanderson from the Met’s Flying Squad, said: “These men have showed a callous disregard for the safety of others. It is sheer good fortune that no-one was injured - or worse - as a result of their actions.

“They caused significant damage to a number of small businesses who housed the ATMs on their premises, causing great inconvenience to the local community and huge cost and distress to the business owners themselves.

“I am pleased that today they have been jailed for a significant period of time, reflecting the seriousness of the offences.”

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