A man from ROTHERWICK is accused of being the mastermind of an organized criminal group that attempted to blow up 14 ATMs in three counties.
David “Paddy” Hughes is said to have been at the head of the group that “roamed” Hampshire at night and stole a range of cars, motorcycles, garden machinery and even a dog.
He and his crew also allegedly used crowbars, oxyacetylene gas and gasoline to detonate ATMs and steal tens of thousands of pounds in cash.
They are accused of plotting to strike fourteen machines over a seven-month period between 2019 and 2020, in Mortimer, Southampton, Farnham, Brockenhurst, Eastleigh, Bournemouth and others.
The man, of Street End Close, had a “criminal pedigree” and was the “first player” of a gang that carried out a series of “daring attacks”, according to prosecutor Mark Ruffell.
Opening his case at Winchester Crown Court on Friday afternoon, he told the jury: “What I am about to describe to you, for some of you, will be astonishing, a real eye-opener.
“For others, it will confirm your worst fears about the world we live in.
“The reason is that it’s all about organized crime here in Hampshire.
“It’s a question of how Paddy Hughes is a central player in organized crime in Hampshire.”
The prosecutor went on to say that his OCG has “tenatacles and connections [which] cover Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire “.
His “network of criminal contacts” would have enabled him to quickly find suitors for the property he and his co-conspirators allegedly stole.
Mr Ruffell added that Mr Hughes had not answered any questions in an interview with the police and had not provided any statement of the defense, but “was testing us”.
“What that means is that we don’t have the first idea of the innocent explanation he’s going to offer for all the evidence you’re about to hear about.
“You might think if he was innocent and he thought we had made a huge mistake from start to finish regarding his involvement, then he would have protested his innocence at the police station or through his lawyers. in a defense statement and allegedly explained why were wrong. Instead, just silence. ”
The jury was told of an incident in which a Land Rover Defender was stolen from a business park in Fareham in April 2019. It was attached to a trailer containing three quads and power tools.
The Crown said police followed a tracker fitted to the vehicle and found it parked at Winchfield station, ten minutes from Rotherwick, near a van operated by Mr Hughes.
Police searched the van and found one of the quads, impounded it and on the same day the van’s insurance was withdrawn.
Mr Ruffell continued: “CCTV was obtained from the parking lot at Winchfield station.
“This shows that the driver of the van which was insured at Paddy Hughes and which contained stolen items, got into a white car.
“Coincidentally, in mid-2019, Paddy Hughes regularly drove a white Audi A4.”
The trial continues, with Mr. Ruffell completing his opening statement on Monday. Mr. Hughes denies the existence of a conspiracy to cause an explosion, a burglary conspiracy and two counts of theft conspiracy.
The trial is expected to last four weeks.