Two robbers who attacked 56 licensed premises including pubs in Northamptonshire are now behind bars after West Midlands Police called time on their crime spree.
Matthew Sadler and Richard Palmer hit pubs in Northamptonshire, Birmingham, Warwickshire, West Mercia Staffordshire and Leicestershire during a series of early morning raids that saw them smash open fruit machines with hammers.
Together they pocketed about £33,000 in pound coins during their six-week burglary campaign and caused almost £20,000 in damage to 56 pubs, including watering holes in Towcester and Long Buckby.
West Midlands Police caught up with Sadler, 41, and Palmer, 39, on December 2 last year riding a stolen bike in Erdington, Birmingham, shortly after they broke into three pubs in the space of just 45 minutes.
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 – but moments later careered off into the canal.
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, crowbars, 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.
And 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.
At Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday Sadler and Palmer were both handed jail terms of six years and four months for conspiracy to commit burglary.
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 crowbars and their burglary spree caused considerable concern for licensees across the region with one pub – the Village Green in Marsh Hill, Birmingham – 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. The 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.”
Their pub break spree started on 15 October 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.
They pubs they broke into were predominantly in north Birmingham but also in Solihull, Coventry, Banbury and Lutterworth.