A GAMBLING addict used a digger to smash through the wall of a Co-op so his gang could steal a cash machine in a ram raid.

James Sayers, 31, was part of a group who targeted the branch in Didcot, as well as a Barclays bank branch in Henfield - in which £50,000 was stolen.

The group had stolen vehicles and were seen going in a convoy to the bank, where a JCB Telehandler was used to rip out the ATM from the wall.

READ MORE: Cash machine torn off wall at Co-Op branch in Ladygrove, Didcot

It was claimed that he got involved in the raids because of his spiralling gambling debts.

He also admitted a similar ram raid at the Co-op store in Oxfordshire when he appeared at Hove Crown Court.

His Honour Judge Jeremy Gold QC heard how an Audi A6 was stolen from a rural property, along with a Nissan Navara which was used to transport the stolen machine.

Sayers’ gang was confronted by a forest ranger, so they rammed his vehicle and later torched the stolen cars in the woods.

READ MORE: Gang of six break into Mitsubishi showroom and take 4x4 trucks

But he was arrested, and admitted two burglaries on Barclays and on the Co-op, and taking vehicles without the owner’s consent.

Gabby Henty, prosecuting, said the group raided Henfield in April 2018. A year later a group targeted the Co-op in Oxford.

She revealed that Sayers was currently residing at HMP Highdown in Sutton, after being jailed for a total of seven years for a similar ram raid in Hampshire, and for producing cannabis.

Digger DNA

For both the Henfield raid and the Didcot raid, Sayers had left his DNA in the JCB vehicles which were abandoned at the scene.

During the second offence, the gang had stolen a Ford Transit van and cut open the roof in order to drop an ATM machine inside using the plant machinery.

In that raid they bagged as much as £105,000, the prosecutors said.

READ MORE: Wantage man jailed for 'worst case' of domestic abuse

Judge Gold QC said: “These are extremely serious offences involving ram raiding.”

He said that because Sayers is already serving a prison sentence, he could only add two and half years to the overall sentence, of which the ram raider will serve half.

Sayers, formerly of Rushett Common, Bramley, Guildford, was also banned from driving for six years, to cover at least three years after his release from prison which The Herald estimates will be in about May 2024.