Bookie robbers caught

After scamming their way to more than £55,000 from 85 bookmakers around the UK, a West London gang has been stopped in their tracks thanks to the alertness of staff at a Derbyshire bookmaker.

The scam, which lasted more than four months, involved various members of a 16-man gang targeting cash quest machines in Ladbrokes shops around the country. Some members of the gang would distract staff whilst others would tamper with the machines and expose its mechanics.

"This would, in effect, fool it into producing vouchers which could be exchanged for cash,” said prosecutor David Hewitt.

It is not known how the gang had obtained the knowledge to deceive the machines.

The gang were finally caught last October after hitting the Ladbrokes shop on St Peter’s St in Derby when staff had noticed that the cash quest machine had been interfered with. They immediately called the police.

This led to an investigation by the Metropolitan police and after discovering the gang was from Paddington, West London, eight members of the gang were sentenced this week at Southwark Crown Court. The ringleaders, Denzil Rochester, 19, Mark Riley, 24, and Stephen Koya, 29, were jailed for 12 months. David Carey, 22, was given an eight month sentence.

Christopher Melim, 19, Shane McCleod, 22 and Ashley Hutchison, 19, each received 150 hours’ community service, whilst Lee Johnston, 33, was given a 18 month community supervision order.

The remaining members of the gang still await their fate at a hearing to be confirmed next month.

"This was a sustained period of offending over about four months in which no less than 85 betting shops were the victims of thefts. I do take into account, however, that no violence and no threat of violence was used in the offences,” commented Judge Paul Dodgson.

Ladbrokes have since removed and replaced all the cash quest machines with more secure versions.

Editor, - 2007-05-16 11:00:36

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