Prosecutors dropped allegations that a convicted ATM blower had an illegal prison phone.

Frenny Green, 33, had been charged along with cellmate David Riley, 26, with having the mobile phone in HMP Bullingdon.

The device was found during a search of their cell at the prison near Bicester on May 31.

Call data from the phone showed it had predominantly been used to call contacts linked to Riley, prosecutor Jonathan Stone told Oxford Crown Court last week.

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There were six calls to Green’s mother’s number. However, Green denied the allegation when he appeared before the magistrates’ court in March and prosecutors may have struggled to prove that it was him who called his mother rather than another prisoner. Riley has admitted possession of the phone.

Mr Stone told Judge Michael Gledhill QC: “In my view this case is simply going to add to the [number] of cases in the backlog and we have a guilty plea from the main protagonist.”

The judge formally recorded a not guilty verdict.

Herald Series: The men were in a cell together at HMP BullingdonThe men were in a cell together at HMP Bullingdon

Green is currently awaiting sentence for his part in a large-scale conspiracy to break into cash machines across the Home Counties.

The gang, run by Kidlington-based Jimmy Sheen, 37, initially used oxyacetylene gas to try and blow up ATMs in the summer of 2019 to access the cash-filled cassettes inside.

Their first attempts, on the night of June 9, 2019, proved unsuccessful.

They abandoned an attempt at a McColls in Newbury after ‘something spooked them’ then ‘had another go’ at a Budgens in Peachcroft Road, Abingdon. Arriving after 4.30am, they pumped gas into the cash machine, ignited it then used an angle grinder to saw through the front doors. The explosion damaged the ATM but the cash remained secure.

Prosecutor Barry McElduff told jurors at Oxford Crown Court in March, during the trial of a co-defendant: “Their first foray into gas attacks on ATMs was not particularly successful.

"Either being spooked in Newbury or getting the quantities wrong meant that despite engaging in this serious and dangerous activity the three offenders had to empty handed."

Herald Series: The thieves used a circular saw to try and gain entry to the Co-op Picture: TVPThe thieves used a circular saw to try and gain entry to the Co-op Picture: TVP

Three nights later, however, they struck gold. Having met up in Oxford, they drove to the Co-op in Leavesden, near Watford.

CCTV caught them piling trolley cages in front of the main doors to the Cunningham Way store. They pumped gas into the cash machine, feeding a pipe through a slit in the ATM. They lit the gas and blew off the back of the machine.

Their getaway car was then used to ram the trolley cages, breaking the glass door and allowing the thieves to pocket an estimated £74,000 in notes from the wrecked ATM.

As they left the scene the thieves could be heard crowing: “Thank you, Co-op.”

Later in June, the gang’s luck ran out with a series of unsuccessful raids using gas.

Their tactics changed from blowing up the cash machines to dragging them out using 4x4s.

Green was arrested in December 2019, when his involvement in the conspiracy stopped.

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