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Polegate ram-raid gang jailed
Thieves who smashed into a police car while fleeing the scene of a botched ram-raid have been jailed.
The group sped along the A22 between Polegate and Hailsham with a 15ft metal chain attached to the back of their stolen highways maintenance van.
Sparks flew from the swinging chain as the van travelled at about 25mph above its recommended speed.
In a vehicle dumped in a layby near Polegate, the gang’s kit – including a mask, hammers, a notebook of places to burgle and gaffer tape – were abandoned.
Andrew Sharpen, John Ashman, Roy Stone, Shane Spalding and Duncan Pyne had come up with the idea of burgling the golf equipment warehouse in Chaucer Business Park, Ditton Road, Polegate, during a discussion in a pub.
The offence took place on February 18 Brighton Crown Court was told on Friday.
Amanda Kelly, prosecuting, said a police officer heard alarms going off and went to the scene.
He attempted to manoeuvre his vehicle so that it would block the gang from leaving, but the driver of the van, Sharpen, reversed into the police car and smashed their way clear.
Police chased the gang until they dumped their van on a grass verge and fled.
The thieves had wrecked the warehouse’s locks but had not managed to take anything when they were disturbed.
Justin Rivett, defending Spalding, Stone and Pyne, said: “It stinks of amateurism.
“This was really a botched job.”
The defendants, from east London, all admitted conspiracy to burgle and Sharpen also admitted dangerous driving, driving without insurance and a valid licence.
Judge Paul Tain said: “The hope was to clean the place out. “
I don’t play golf but I imagine there was a lot of expensive equipment there.
“This was a serious group offence with the potential for massive loss for the victim and massive gain for the criminals.”
He added Sharpen’s driving was incredibly dangerous and the swinging chain could have struck other vehicles or pedestrians.
Pyne, 29, of Gilderson Street, and Ashman, 53, of Winifred Street, were jailed for eight months.
Sharpen, 44, of Church Street, was jailed for a year and banned from driving for a year.
Stone, 53, of Beaconsfield Road, and Spalding, 50, of no fixed address, were jailed for ten months.
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