Judge warns ATM thieves they face tough sentences

Cotswold Journal: (6527673) (6527673)

THREE men who plotted to steal from bank cashpoint users in Gloucester and the Cotswolds have been warned they face tough sentences next month.

The trio were convicted by a jury at Gloucester Crown Court on Friday of conspiracy to steal by using cash trapping devices on ATMs in Stow and Gloucester.

After their convictions, Judge Jamie Tabor said such crimes are far too prevalent nationally and he is considering cracking down on them as a deterrent to others.

He rejected a submission that he should pass sentence straight away because, he said, they might benefit from pre-sentence reports which could persuade him to reduce the sentences he had in mind.

Flavius Novac, Costel Procopkiuc and Gheorghe Bechian had all denied conspiracy to steal between October 2011 and July 2012 but were convicted by the jury after a four day trial.

Judge Tabor remanded them in custody till July 1 to await sentence.

However, a fourth defendant Amraz Hussain, who had allegedly acted as a driver for the gang, was cleared of the same conspiracy charge.

He also faced a second less serious alternative charge but the jury could not reach agreement and was discharged.

Judge Tabor bailed him to a date to be fixed while the prosecution decide whether to seek a retrial.

Prosecutor Paul Cook had told the jury at the start of the trial that the scam involved sticking a fake debit card slot onto a cash machine.

A customer would put in a debit card, key in a PIN - but then get no money because the notes would remain hidden in the device.

Only after a customer had left the scene would a gang member recover the device and grab the money.

Novac, 23, of no fixed abode and Procopkiuc, 23, from Middlesex were fitting the devices, while Bechian, 35 of Alma Road in Banbury, Oxford later retrieved them once cash ha been trapped inside, Mr Cook said.

Hussain, 29, of Cromwell Road, also in Banbury, was said to have been the driver but tyo have played an active role in the scam as well

A Barclays Bank machine on Bristol Road in Gloucester was targeted at least three times and others at the Co-op in Abbotswood Road, Brockworth and another in High Street in Stow were also hit.

Documents linking some of the members of the gang were found at their homes and telephone records showed they were often in Gloucestershire at the same time.

All four men denied being involved in any plot and said they were either not at the scene as alleged by the prosecution or had knowledge of what was going on.

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