Offender Reuben Reynolds given second chance by Stow firm is sent back to jail for bank machine raids
A convicted bank raider hailed as a reformed character when he became Britain's first prison inmate to be offered a paid apprenticeship, has been jailed.
Reuben Reynolds earned his apprenticeship with the Sturton by Stow-based Gelder Group as part of the preparation for life on the outside.
It helped him gain his first job working for a landscape and construction industry following his release from Lincoln Prison in September 2011.
But just weeks later he quit after learning he faced redundancy.
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Almost immediately he rejoined his old hole in the wall gang, targeting bank machines in small rural towns across the East Midlands, in identical raids for which Reynolds earned his original four-year sentence back in 2009.
Gareth Weetman, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that the gang stole JCB diggers and similar equipment from farms which were then used to smash their way into buildings to remove the cash machines in the dead of night.
The ATMs were then transported to isolated areas where they were broken up and the cash taken.
The gang got away with £26,000 in early February after ripping an ATM machine off the wall at the Co-op store in Market Place, Kegworth, Leicestershire.
Less than a week later they hit the Nat West Bank in Market Place, Bingham, again forcing the machine from the wall. They got away with £40,000 cash but also caused more than £60,000 damage to the bank.
They later switched back to Leicestershire but were disturbed after removing a cash machine containing £60,000 from the Co-op in Asfordby, Leicestershire.
Further raids on premises at Long Stratton in Norfolk, Long Bennington in Lincolnshire, Two Dales in Derbyshire and Shepshed in Leicestershire were unsuccessful.
Mr Weetman said: "This was an organised, professional conspiracy between these men and others. They planned and carried out the removal by force of cash machines across the East Midlands area."
They were caught at the end of February after police disturbed them while they were parked up near to Pilsley, Derbyshire, waiting to carry out a further raid.
A chase followed and the gang leader Gary Self was detained after fleeing from his getaway car.
Forensic investigations and checks carried out on mobile phones owned by the gang eventually led to the arrest of three other men.
Gary Self, 47,of Coney Grey Spinney, Flintham, Nottinghamshire; Reuben Reynolds, 30, of College Close, Newark; Nathan Steele, 31, of Carlton Road, Newark and John Charles, 38, of Welbeck Road, Retford, all admitted conspiracy to burgle between November 5, 2011, and February 28, this year.
The court was told that both Self and Reynolds had only recently been released from long-term prison sentences imposed in 2009 for identical offences.
Reynolds and Self were each jailed for six-and-a-half years. Charles was jailed for five years and Steele for four-and-a-half years.
Judge Sean Morris told them: "This was a highly professional crime. The profits were extremely high."
Mr Milligan, in mitigation for Reynolds, said: "He tried to go straight. Unfortunately because of the downturn in the economy he was told that redundancies were due to take place. He decided to leave before he was made redundant."
Steve Gelder, managing director of Gelder Group, said: "I'm disappointed and the whole company will be shocked.
"The prison and I thought he deserved a chance but he's let everyone down. I had one-to-ones with Reuben and he swore blind he didn't want to go back into prison because he was petrified."