Gambling machine raider jailed - Watford

21/09/2012

A convicted gambling machine raider was jailed for another 18-months today, Friday, 21 September 2012, after stealing coins from a snooker club in Watford and pubs in Southampton and Leicester.

Thomas Wheatcroft, 31, was jailed at Oxford Crown Court in October 2010 for 3-years and 4-months for using electronic devices to extract cash from machines all over the country.

He was released on licence, but in July was doing the same at Riley's Snooker Club in Watford, the Salisbury Arms in Southampton, and The Goose in Leiceister.

Wheatcroft, of no fixed address, appeared at St Albans Crown Court for sentence having pleaded guilty to three counts of theft.

Prosecutor Robin Miric said: "He was involved in taking money from gambling machines at licensed premises. One of the men involved would distract the licensee and the money would fall into the tray. A towel would be placed in the machine's tray, so that it would be a soft drop with no noise being made."

He said the police were called to the snooker club in Watford on 09 July to arrest Wheatcroft, who was not compliant. He was first pepper sprayed and when that had no effect was struck on the leg with a truncheon before being taken to the police station.

In all the police recovered £1,067 from Wheatcroft.

Defence barrister Frederick Hookway said Wheatcroft had been recalled to prison from the previous sentence. He has a partner and two children.

Judge John Plumstead ordered that £355.66 is paid in compensation to each of the three losers. He told Wheatcroft:: "The people who have these machines on their premises rely on them to support their businesses. Unless you change you will spend longer periods of time behind bars."

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