EIGHT men who committed a series of thefts of hi-tech machinery from farms across rural Cheshire have each pleaded guilty to 19 offences.
Gang members admitted 15 charges of theft and four of handling stolen goods at Chester Crown Court last Tuesday and will be sentenced in September.
They are: Paul Edwards, 26, of David Street, Castle, Northwich; Ben Gee, 20, of Clifton Drive, Leftwich, Northwich; Shaun Higgins, 39, of Braemar Avenue, Northwich; Peter Illidge, 27, of Warren Avenue, Lostock Gralam; Jamie Meredith, 22, of Rookery Rise, Winsford; Liam McGuigan, 19, of Hesketh Drive, Lostock Gralam; Christopher Smalley, 26, of Fernlea Road, Marston, and Andrew Devine, 24, of Meeanee Drive, Nantwich.
An initial charge of conspiracy to steal was not pursued by prosecutors and will lie on file.
Illidge, McGuigan and Meredith were remanded in custody for sentencing on September 18. The rest were released on bail.
Det Sgt Tony King, who led the operation, said: “Many of the victims depended on the machinery, vehicles and tools for their livelihood.”
Illidge and McGuigan will also be sentenced on September 18 for an attempted burglary at the £1m Delamere home of jailed loan shark Paul Nicholson, along with Anthony Lee Brown, 25, of Ashwood Close, Barnton and 34-year-old Matthew Tyrer, of Lime Avenue, Weaverham.