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Gloucestershire Business News

Gang caught raiding firm for precious metals branded “idiots”

A gang who tried to steal tens of thousands of pounds of precious metals from a Gloucestershire business have instead bagged themselves jail sentences.

A judge handed out jail terms to the out-of-county gang who broke into the Forest of Dean company - branding the trio "idiots".

A fourth man remains wanted by police, Judge Ian Lawrie QC heard.

Thomas Nightingale, 20, of Dilmore Ave, Worcester; Shaun Hyde, 36, of Lawfred Ave, Wednesfield, Wolverhampton and Kieran Davenport, 21, of Northwick Road, Evesham all pleaded guilty to the charges.

They admitted stealing 21 bags of precious metal powder valued at between £23,000 and £55,000 from BASF Metal Recycling Ltd of Forest Vale Industrial Estate, Cinderford on October 18 last year.

Nightingale and Hyde were given suspended prison sentences but Davenport, who is already in prison on other matters, was given an immediate custodial sentence.

The fourth man, Connor Maguire, of whom no further details were given in court, is still wanted by police, prosecutor Janine Wood told Judge Lawrie.

Mrs Wood said: "This event was not just a few minutes. CCTV shows breaking in from the fence.

"Security come along, they leave, and then they come back later.

Mrs Wood said the offence took place 'over a period of hours with four people involved'.

"They did not manage to leave with the items they put into sacks," the prosecutor added.

"Mr Smallwood, site manager, said they [BASF] receive automotive material, mill it down for precious metals, and then send to the USA for further refining.

"Each 'super sized bag' is worth £60-£70,000."

Mrs Wood said the men 'broke in via the metal palisade fence at the rear of site'.

She said security later found fifteen small white sacks.

"One of the large super-sized sacks ready for shipment had been emptied," she added.

"Valued at up to £55,000 in this case, it is not easily able to be quantified.

"It is over a period of hours, not just once, they come back after being initially disrupted.

"It was a group action to steal those items."

Mrs Wood said: "The police were contacted as they had been spotted on the cameras, when they attended the intruders had moved off.

"At 4am, the police returned to conduct patrols.

"The saw a Vauxhall Zafira near the site. It was insecure and the engine was warm."

At 5.35am the police saw a black Audi speed past them which then parked level with the Zafira.

"Three men came out and moved to the Zafira," Mrs Wood said. "but ran off when they saw the police.

"At 7am a PCSO saw a black Audi in the area," the prosecutor continued. "It was stopped in Cinderford.

"Mr Hyde was the driver, Nightingale was the passenger, both appeared dirty. They were arrested.

"At 7.35am PCSO Pritchard saw two other males acting suspiciously looking in car windows in a residential area near the BASF site," Mrs Wood said. These men are believed to be Maguire and Davenport. "They were dirty," the barrister added.

The court heard the Audi belonged to Mr Hyde.

"It is clear they have come from some distance, in a group and targeted this place," the prosecutor said.

"My concern is that they have come down as a group prepared," the judge said. "They do not get brownie points for being incompetent.

"That is not mitigation. If they were superb at it they would not have been caught but if they had they would not get an uplift in sentence for being good at offending.

"Companies like this are vulnerable."

All three men had submitted 'basis of plea' documents which the judge said he did not accept.

The men had said they were offending at the 'behest' of others, feeling varying degrees of pressure to commit the crime.

"This is a collective exercise," the judge ruled. "None of you have the courage to say who it is at the behest of.

"They have all got themselves involved. They have travelled a long distance. They all have previous convictions.

"The reality is that I must adopt parity of sentence despite the encyclopedic convictions of Mr Hyde.

"They are all idiots," the judge said.

On behalf of Hyde, Alex Daymond said his client was 'a family man with commitments'.

"He has been spectacularly irresponsible to get involved in this," the judge retorted.

"I rely on the fact that the rate of offending has slowed," Mr Daymond argued.

"A course such as the thinking skills programme might be of benefit not just to him but his family and society in general," Mr Daymond continued.

"He cannot get work because of his previous convictions.

"He has made 10 applications for very low paid jobs, in last three months, all of which have been rejected.

"His partner's mother has lent him money to start a business in the car trade. That has been operating for the last five weeks.

"He wants to get off reliance on the state."

On behalf of Nightingale, Richard Purchase referred to his client's mother's ill health.

He said Nightingale was her carer and 'he was arrested for another matter and served four weeks'.

"His mother found it very difficult," the barrister said. "He was aware that was his fault.

"His recent contact with probation has been very good. He is complying with his licence.

"With the negative consequences for his mother that he has inflicted on her, it is hoped that is the incentive for him to comply."

For Davenport, Curtis Myrie told the judge that his client was in prison with an expected release date of June 11.

He asked the judge to impose an immediate custodial sentence on his client, and argued for one that would not extend his jail term any further.

The judge noted that it would be illegal for him to pass a consecutive jail term, and any sentence he imposed would start from today.

Dealing with the three men, he said: "All these defendants need to engage their brains.

"Their criminal records are like the Mark of Cain for employability, which is a matter of regret."

Davenport was given a twelve-month jail term.

Hyde and Nightingale were made subject to suspended sentences. Both men were given 12 months suspended for two years.

They were ordered to attend a thinking skills programme and complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

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