Defendant also broke into Burger King and made himself a snack

Darlington and Stockton Times: The damaged cash point The damaged cash point

A CALAMITOUS crook was last night (Monday) behind bars for two odd crimes which showed up apparent serious lapses in security.

Ian MacNeil spent two hours trying to smash into a cashpoint machine with a brick after bank charges put his account in the red.

The drunken raider was caught on closed circuit television cameras as sparks flew from the ATM, but nobody seemed to react to it.

Months later and still penniless and hungry, MacNeil broke into a fast-food restaurant after closing time and cooked himself a burger.

Alarms at the Burger King restaurant in Middlesbrough failed to go off as the 38-year-old helped himself to some icecream as well.

The prolific thief was only caught a month later when tests on fingerprints found on bin bags in the store were matched to his.

Teesside Crown Court heard that MacNeil was upset because some of his benefits were used to settle his overdraft.

His lawyer, Graham Brown, said he wanted revenge on Yorkshire Bank and tried to reclaim his money from the cashpoint machine.

"It is a bizarre video in the sense cars were going past and there was local authority and privately-monitored CCTV footage.

"It was being observed and recorded live, and it still took two hours for the authorities to be brought to the bank," said Mr Brown.

"He could and should have been stopped far sooner. That's not something he had any say in. He did it in the public gaze on a public road.

"He was without accommodation when he entered Burger King. He maintains the motivation was hunger. His focus was food.

"I don't know what alarm systems they have . . . this was the pathetic nature of the lifestyle he was and has been living.

"None of them [the crimes] have been motivated by high-value - it was a burger, and partly revenge at the bank."

MacNeil, of Hampden Street, South Bank, Middlesbrough, was jailed for 15 months after he admitted attempted theft and burglary.

Judge Peter Armstrong heard how he has a record going back to his mid-teens which contains 154 offences including drugs, theft and burglary.

He told MacNeil: "You may well have perceived you had a grievance against the bank who, in effect, were taking your benefits money to pay off your overdraft, leaving you without money either for drink or drugs or anything else.

"You managed to get some money for drink because you spent two hours smashing your way into this ATM machine, and from the photographs made a real mess of it."

Prosecutor David Crook told the court that MacNeil used a brick and his fist to bash the machine, and caused damage costing £5,000.

"There was little chance any money would have been taken, given what the defendant was doing," Mr Crook said.

"It was a determined effort. But unsuccessful. It totally wrecked the machine. It was being monitored remotely, hut not very effectively, it seems."

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