A TRAVELLER has been jailed for his role in attempting to steal a cash machine.

Tali Smith, 27, joined in a bid to steal a cash machine from the Moreton-in-Marsh ALDI store so he could pay off his dad's drug debts, a court heard today.

His father had gone missing with a debt of £3-4,000 to his drug dealers and Smith was pressurised into being the lookout for the raid on ALDI last November to repay them, said his barrister Chloe Griggs at Gloucester crown court.

He was the only person ever caught for the burglary because his blood was found at the scene after the gang had fled in two cars just as police arrived, the court was told.

Smith, of Barlestone Road, Bagworth, Leicestershire, w, pleaded guilty via video link from Hewell Prison to burgling Aldi in Moreton on November 11 last year with intent to steal.

He was jailed for forty months.

Prosecutor Janine Wood said that at about 1.50am that day police were alerted by the company which owned the ATM at Aldi that there had been a break in.

Neighbours reported cars in the car park of the store and noises coming from inside.

When police arrived two Audi cars got away and were not traced. Officers got only a partial registration number for one of them.

The officers found that the free standing ATM in the store had heavy duty straps around it and had been moved. Blood was found on one of the straps and it turned out to be Smith's.

"He had effectively left his calling card," said Mrs Wood.

She said he had eight previous criminal convictions dating back to 2003.

Ms Griggs, for Smith, said he is married with two young children and a third on the way.

His wife has serious health problems, she said.

She told the court his father was a long standing drug addict who often disappears for months at a time and had done so last November - leaving a signficant drug debt.

His dealers chased Smith for the money and told him if he acted as lookout for the burglary he would wipe out the debt, she said.

But while at Aldi the gang, all wearing gloves, could not shift the machine and asked for his help - which was when he joined in and cut his hand, leaving blood on the straps.

Asked by Judge Ian Lawrie if Smith was prepared to name the other burglars, Ms Griggs said 'He instructs me in no uncertain terms that his life would be in danger if he did that."

She said he was distressed to be in custody knowing that he would miss the birth and early days of his new baby.

Judge Lawrie told Smith that with two previous convictions for commercial burglary on his record the only possible sentence was an immediate jail term of 3yrs 4 months.