On the evening of November 2, 2014, five suspicious characters entered the Hot Shots nightclub on Hammerton Street in Burnley, Lancashire, England. The three men and two women were on a premeditated mission of the most unsavory sort; to rob the slot machines. Last week, all five appeared in Burnley Crown Court, where they were each found guilty after admitting to theft and attempted theft.
The gang of would-be thieves was led by career criminal Jamie Finney of Kilmory Place, North Shore, a 28 year old “gambling addict” and father of two who now has more than 60 criminal offences to his name. His male counterparts were 40 year old Anthony Wainwright (residence unknown), another pathological criminal with 40+ offences, and 22 year old amateur footballer Barry Cantley of Recovery Road, South Shore.
Assisting in the raid on the slot machines were two females, Danielle Mason and Nicole White, both 20 years of age. Mason is a shop assistant, White a single mother. Neither of them had any convictions on their record prior to the raid on Hot Shots’ slot machines.
Judge Jonathan Gibson heard tale of their duplicitous escapades that night. According to lead prosecutor Stephen Parker, the gang deliberately targeted slot machines at the Hot Shots nightclub.
The court heard testimony from the establishment’s duty manager, who said he witnessed the group playing the Cops and Robbers and Deal or No Deal slot machines on the second floor of the nightclub. He said he watched them on the CCTV for some time as they were acting suspiciously.
As it turns out, the two ladies were enlisted by the men to distract nightclub officials while the men, headed by Finney, tried to use a special set of keys to open the hoppers of the slot machines and steal the coins within. They successfully retrieved over one thousand £1 coins from the first gaming device, but were interrupted in their second attempt.
When approached and questioned by the duty manager, the group of 5 took off on foot, running down Hammerton Street. The manager immediately saw that the slot machines had been tempered with and notified authorities, who caught up with the gang in their getaway car a short distance from the nightclub.
Parker told the court that the set of three keys that were used to infiltrate the slot machines had been specially adapted for that very purpose, and were found stuffed down the leggings of Ms. Mason. A bag of coins totaling £1,122 was found in the car, and Finney had an additional £500 on his person.
Judge Gibson found the defendants guilty, but issued separate penalties based on the level of involvement and prior convictions. The leader, Jamie Finney, was given 8 months behind bars. The eldest of the group, and driver of the getaway car, Anthony Wainwright, was sentenced to 10 months. Barry Cantley had no priors, and was given 2 months in jail. The judge found both ladies to be “periphery” accomplices, giving them both a 12 month conditional discharge instead of jail time.