A GANG of professional burglars has been jailed for two years after targeting pubs and a bowling alley across Ellesmere Port, Chester and Crewe.
Noel Lacey, 38, Christopher Organ, 38, and Wayne Hawkins, 26, drove to Cheshire from their home city of Birmingham to commit the carefully planned break-ins which saw them net £5,062 in cash and cause £8,950 worth of damage.
The men, who used sledgehammers to smash open fruit machines, stole £1,913 from the Wheatsheaf Pub in Ellesmere Port, £1,749 from The Oaklands Hotel in Hoole and about £1,400 cash from Lakeside Superbowl in Crewe.
All three had pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary committed on February 7 last year.
Prosecutor Steven Ball told Chester Crown Court the defendants arrived in Chester in a Volkswagen Golf the night before the burglaries where they stayed in the Premier Inn.
CCTV captured them acting suspiciously around gaming machines and even filming them on a mobile phone.
On February 29 the Golf was stopped by police in the West Midlands after a short pursuit. Driver Lacey escaped but Hawkins and Organ were arrested.
Sledgehammers were found in the car and Organ’s training shoes were seized and found to match footprints at The Oaklands.
Jonathan Barker, defending Hawkins, said his client, from Edgbaston, was embarrassed at his record, as was his partner Robyn, the ‘most important person in his life’.
Rebecca Hill, defending Organ, a reformed drug addict, said her client, of Linden Road, had eight children and a dependent grandchild.
He had to face up to the fact he would not be around to support his long-term partner and family, who were facing eviction from their home because it had been condemned.
Alistair Edie, defending Lacey, stressed the premises targeted were unoccupied and non-residential.
Lacey’s criminal activities were linked to his ‘acquisitive need to gamble’ but he had helped set up a group to address this behaviour during a previous prison stay. Lacey, of Sibdon Grove, was described as a father-of-three with a loving partner.
Judge Elgan Edwards, Recorder of Chester, said: “This is a serious matter because the three of you quite deliberately travelled to another part of the country to commit burglary.
“It was a professional crime and you brought with you the implements to effect that burglary and then made good your escape.
“Due to good police work you were apprehended.”