Man jailed after taking part in two ram-raids in Debenham and Glemsford

A 30-year-old man has been jailed for over four years after admitting his involvement in two ram-raid offences at convenience shops in Debenham and Glemsford.

Jesse Gatehouse, of Defoe Crescent, in Colchester, appeared before Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday, April 14, when he was sentenced to four years and four months’ imprisonment.

Gatehouse was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday, November 12, following a ram raid at the Co-op in Debenham.

Officers had been called at just after 3.30am to reports that an agricultural teleloader had been used to break into the front of the shop in Chancery Lane.

The cash machine was stolen from inside the building and placed in the back of a white Ford Transit van, which was then driven away from the scene with a Red Audi S4 following behind. Three men were seen on CCTV to have participated in the burglary.

Several police units were sent to the scene and surrounding area and a search for the suspect vehicles took place.

At 4.05am a police unit encountered what was believed to be the suspect in a red Audi in Green Lane, Syleham, and prevented it from making off, after it had collided with a hedge.

Gatehouse was trapped in the back of the vehicle and arrested at the scene, but two other men got out and ran off across a field. The Transit van was then located nearby around 10 minutes later, with the cash machine and its contents still inside.

A large-scale search was conducted in Syleham, assisted by the police dog unit, but the two men who ran from the car were not found and are still wanted by police in connection with this crime.

The teleloader was discovered to have been stolen from a farm in Debenham and the Ford Transit was stolen from an address in Bures St Mary. Both of these vehicles were taken at some point during the hours immediately preceding the ram-raid.

The red Audi had been reported as stolen from an address in Danbury, near Chelmsford, overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, October 29 and 30.

Gatehouse was charged with burglary and first appeared before magistrates on Wednesday, November13, when he pleaded guilty and was committed to the Crown Court for sentencing.

Whilst on remand in prison awaiting sentence, Gatehouse was visited by officers from Suffolk Police’s Operation Converter team, who give offenders the opportunity to voluntarily admit to other offences they may have committed. These can then be “Taken into Consideration” (TIC) by the court at the time of sentencing, meaning the offender can leave prison with a clean slate and the offences are formally detected by police.

Gatehouse engaged with the Operation Converter team and asked for a further six offences to be TIC as follows:

–        Four of these relate to the ram-raid at the Debenham Co-op: the thefts of the three vehicles used during the crime; and a burglary at a grain store on a farm in Syleham – which had been broken into and used to park the Transit van and where attempts were then made to open the cash machine

–        The other two TIC offences relate to an attempted burglary at the Spar shop, in Bells Lane, Glemsford, at 2.45am on Monday, November 4; and the associated theft of a Land Rover Defender from an address in Kersey during the hours preceding this incident, which was used to drive into the building.

Detective Inspector Matt Adams said: “It will come of great reassurance to local businesses to see Jesse Gatehouse locked up for the foreseeable future and it is only because of his early guilty plea and engagement with the Op Converter team, that he avoided a sentence of more than seven years in prison.

“The prompt arrest and conviction of Gatehouse was made possible by the fantastic police response on the night of the ram raid in Debenham. Not only were local officers involved with the search for the offenders, but they were assisted by colleagues from the Roads and Armed Policing Team – who brought the Audi to a stop – and also the Police Dog Unit.

“Although the other two offenders evaded capture that night and remain at large, our efforts to identify and locate them continue. However, the positive outcome of that night was that at least one of the offenders was caught and the cash machine was located with the money still inside.

“Crimes like this leave a trail of destruction and numerous victims in their wake; from the people who have their vehicles stolen and often written-off through misuse; to the tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage caused to the buildings. This usually results in the shops having to close for a period of time, losing the business further income and denying many residents the use of a vital local amenity.

“The great work of the Op Converter team means that Gatehouse has now admitted his involvement in seven offences in total, rather than just the one he had been charged with, and so I hope this provides the other affected parties some degree of satisfaction.

“We still have other criminals to bring to justice in connection with these offences and so I would urge anyone who knows anything that could assist our enquiries to come forward.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact East CID at Lowestoft Police Station, quoting reference number 68441/19.

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