Two robbers who targeted more than 50 pubs across the Midlands stealing around £33,000 from fruit machines were jailed today (Tuesday, June 6) – with footage released of one falling in a canal while fleeing police.
Matthew Sadler and Richard Palmer hit pubs in Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Birmingham and Staffordshire during a series of early morning raids that saw them smash open fruit machines with hammers.
They went on to break into a total of 56 pubs, predominantly in north Birmingham but also in Solihull, Coventry and as far afield as Banbury, Towcester, Lutterworth and Long Buckby.
Together they pocketed approximately £33,000 in pound coins during their six-week burglary campaign and caused almost £20,000 in damage.
Police caught up with Sadler, 41, and Palmer, 39, riding a stolen motorcycle in Erdington shortly after they broke into three pubs in the space of just 45 minutes on December 2, last year,.
Pillion passenger Palmer jumped off the bike and fled but pursuing officers followed Sadler as he sped at 80mph through residential areas, jumping red lights and riding on the wrong side of the road.
In a desperate bid to shake off the police attention, including the police helicopter monitoring his movements from above, he diverted onto a canal towpath off Tyburn Road – but moments later careered off into the water.
He clambered back onto the towpath and tried hiding his jacket behind bushes before he was arrested – officers recovered the jacket and found the pockets straining to contain £285 in coins.
Palmer was traced to a flat in Arden Court, Erdington, two days later where officers found him asleep on a sofa.
A search of the address uncovered fruit machine cash hoppers, a claw hammer, crow bars, plus clothing worn during some of the raids.
Examination of blood found on glass shards at The Duck in Hagley Road, Ladywood – which was attacked on November 7 – also returned a DNA match to Palmer.
Their pub break spree started on October 15, last year, when the Village Green and Sutton Coldfield Sports & Social club were targeted.
Detectives later found CCTV showing Sadler and Palmer exchanging £250 in coins for notes at a convenience store in Erdington.
In the face of compelling evidence against them – including CCTV footage, forensic hits, fingerprints, mobile phone data and footprint matches – both admitted conspiracy to commit burglary.
The pair were both handed jail terms of six years and four months for conspiracy to commit burglary at Birmingham Crown Court.
Sadler, of no fixed address, was handed an additional eight months behind bars for escaping lawful custody after he fled from hospital while receiving treatment.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Alan Reeves said: “All of the burglaries occurred during the early hours of the morning and no-one was attacked or threatened.
“However, they were armed with hammers and crow bars and their burglary spree caused considerable concern for licensees across the region with one pub – the Village Green in Marsh Hill – being targeted four times in a matter of weeks.
“Sadler’s bid to outrun the police helicopter was always doomed to failure.
“In fact, it could have ended much worse for him as the weight of almost 300 pound coins in is jacket could have caused real difficulties when he ended up in the canal.
“I’m pleased these men have been handed lengthy jail sentences…it reflects the violent nature and extent of their offences.
“Staff at pubs across the region will be comforted by the fact they no longer pose a risk and will be robustly offender managed upon their eventual release from prison.”