A Romanian scrap dealer who stole £27,000 by becoming the first person in Britain to BLOW UP three cash machines has been jailed for 13-and-a-half years.
Constantin Alexandroaia caused £73,000 worth of damage by attaching pipes to ATMs and pumping gas from cylinders through the gap before igniting the vapour.
A court heard the 33-year-old struck at two Barclays branches in Birmingham and another in Leicestershire during a 25-day period last year.
Security glass prevented Alexandroaia and his unknown accomplice from getting to cash which was blown from the back of the machines in the first two robberies.
But they managed to escape with a staggering £27,000 – which has never been recovered – after a blast tore through another branch in Birstall, Leics., exposing the cash vault.
Alexandroaia pleaded guilty to three counts of causing explosions under the Explosives Act of 1883 and three counts of burglary on the first day of his trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
Jailing the married dad-of-one on Thursday Recorder Melbourne Inman QC said: “These offences were very serious, well planned and very dangerous.”
The court heard the “unusual” ATM attacks were “well planned and well executed” with the first of its type recorded in the UK in March last year.
Masked Alexandroaia and his accomplice first struck at a Barclays branch on Alcester Road South in Druids Heath, Birmingham, on March 21.
They then targeted the Chester Road branch in Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, on April 1 before making off with £27,000 from a Barclays on Sibson Road in Birstall on April 15.
All three attacks took place at around 4am and the court was shown CCTV of Alexandroaia rigging up the cylinders then smashing into the buildings.
The roof of the branch could be seen falling in from the force of the explosion in the Druids Heath raid whilst a chair was thrown across the branch in Leicestershire.
Alexandroaia, of Sparkhill, Birmingham, was arrested as he tried to board a plane to his native Romania at Luton Airport on April 24.
He was caught by detectives after his blood was found in an abandoned, stolen BMW getaway car used in the Castle Bromwich raid.
The court heard he had served time in jail for theft and dishonesty from his native Romania and Italy.
He was also handed a conditional discharge in August 2013 at Redditch Magistrates Court for attacking a hospital car park cash machine with a sledgehammer.
The court heard Alexandroaia had turned to crime because he was broke and he said he had been forced to sell the family dog.
In a letter read out on his behalf, he said: “I agreed to participate because I needed the money for my family. I am sorry and very ashamed for what I did.”
Justin Hugheston-Roberts, defending, added: “The defence accepts entirely his involvement. He was to be evicted and had to sell the family dog.
“He could not cope here in this country, which is why he undertook the request from others to become involved in organised crime.”
After the case Detective Constable David Bailey, from West Midlands Police, said: “His reckless actions posed a serious risk to the public, to police officers and to himself and significant structural damage was caused to the Barclays banks on all occasions.
“The gas cylinders could have exploded at any point which would have resulted in serious harm to the attending officers and potentially to any passing members of the public.
“Alexandroaia denied the Druids Heath raid but claimed he couldn’t recall where he was at the time; he also denied the Castle Bromwich explosion and could not account for how his blood was present in the vehicle.
“I am extremely pleased with the long sentence Alexandroaia has received and I hope this acts as a deterrent to anyone else thinking of using similar tactics to commit this type of crime.”