England

Canal chase fruit machine raiders jailed

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Media captionThe rider moments before his bike's watery end

Two men who stole more than £33,000 in pound coins from pub fruit machines in a six-week spree have been jailed.

Matthew Sadler and Richard Palmer burgled more than 50 pubs - targeting one premises four times in a matter of weeks - smashing the machines with a hammer and crowbar.

They were caught after a police chase in Birmingham which saw Sadler, on a motorbike, career into a canal.

Sadler was jailed for seven years and Palmer six years and four months.

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The pair had already admitted conspiracy to commit burglary at Birmingham Crown Court before they were sentenced there on Tuesday.

Sadler, 41, of no fixed abode, and Palmer, 39, of Springthorpe Green in Erdington, Birmingham, started their early morning raids on the pubs last October, police said.

They targeted premises in the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Gloucestershire.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Matthew Sadler (l) and Richard Palmer were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday

After breaking into three pubs in the West Midlands, police encountered them on a stolen motorbike in Erdington and began to pursue them.

Pillion passenger Palmer jumped off and fled while Sadler carried on through residential areas, jumping red lights and using the wrong side of the road as he reached speeds of 80mph (128kph).

He diverted on to a canal towpath as a police helicopter tracked him above. The chase ended with his bike plunging into the canal and he was arrested after he clambered back on to the towpath.

He was found trying to hide his jacket - containing £285 in coins - in bushes.

Investigating officer, Det Con Alan Reeves, said the weight of almost £300 coins in his pocket "could have caused real difficulties" for him in the canal.

Palmer was traced to a flat in Arden Court, Erdington, two days later and a search of the address uncovered a claw hammer, crow bars, plus clothing worn during some of the raids, police said.

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