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Sentenced

Jail for thief who failed to steal Sheppey ATMs

A thief has been jailed for ramming a stolen telehandler through the wall of a Sheppey supermarket in a failed attempt to steal two cash machines.

Following the incident Keiron Armstrong, 39, of Brays Mead in Harlow, Essex, drove a car at speeds of up to 150mph to try to escape police before crashing into a roundabout and being arrested.

He was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to attempted theft, damaging property, aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving and driving while disqualified. The judge also banned him from driving for eight years.

The case was investigated by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

Extensive damage

Armstrong and others had stolen the telehandler from a nearby location before using it to cause extensive damage to the wall of the store in Thomsett Way, Queenborough, in the early hours of Saturday 16 September 2017.

CCTV footage showed the digger smash into bollards in front of the cashpoint area at 1.35am. After knocking one over, it surged forwards and repeatedly rammed into the wall of the supermarket causing significant and costly damage.

A large section of brickwork then collapsed after the offenders attached straps to the machines and attempted to pull them from the wall.

Armstrong and his accomplices abandoned their efforts soon after and fled the scene in two separate vehicles – a flatbed van and a stolen Audi.

Abandoned

Officers located the van abandoned close to the Sheppey Crossing. The Audi, driven by Armstrong, was spotted moments later and pursued onto the M2 London-bound.

He turned the vehicle’s lights off and sped away, travelling at speeds of up to 150mph before crashing into a roundabout off Junction 3 for Chatham.

Armstrong was found lying in dense undergrowth by a police dog named Merlin and was subsequently arrested.

Crowbars, bolt croppers, metal bars and other items were found within the vehicle.

Brazen

Detective Inspector Gary Scarfe said:

‘This was a brazen attempt by offenders who had clearly planned the offence, knowing there would be staff working within the store but showing no concern for their safety as they repeatedly rammed the wall.

‘Armstrong and his accomplices hoped to cash in on what they thought was a soft target without any consideration of the damage and potential harm it could cause. Thankfully nobody was injured.

‘He will now have a substantial amount of time in prison to reflect on his failed efforts.’


Armstrong was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday 7 February 2018.

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