Watch: Man wanted for ATM robberies leads officers on high speed chase before being caught hiding in a tree

George Tunney was eventually caught after abandoning a stolen vehicle and fleeing from police on foot

Footage has emerged of the moment police officers found a man wanted for blowing up cash machines and stealing more than £90,000, as he tried to hide in a tree.

George Tunney, 24, was spotted in a stolen car before leading officers on a high speed pursuit and eventually abandoning the vehicle to try and escape on foot.

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A police helicopter was able to use thermal imaging cameras to locate him, as he hid inside a tree trunk.

Helicopter tracks gang hiding in a tree trunk (Photo: North Yorkshire Police / SWNS)

Tunney had used the stolen car during a spree of attacks on cash machines across the country, causing over £60,000 of damage.

‘Conspiracy to cause explosions’

He was jailed at York Crown Court after pleading guilty to targeting nine ATMs just a few months after being released from prison.

Tunney was charged with conspiracy to cause explosions, conspiracy to burgle, theft and handling stolen goods.

The offences, committed in January and March 2020, were all caught on CCTV and showed him using stolen vehicles.

In January 2020, Tunnery targeted two machines in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, and one in Hessle near Hull, East Yorkshire.

The next day he tried again at a Coop in Grantham, Lincolnshire, and a Post Office in Mansfield.

He was unsuccessful in accessing any cash but caused several thousands of pounds worth of damage to the business owners.

On January, 10 Tunney targeted Spaceways Service Station in Nether Poppleton, North Yorkshire.

He again caused thousands of pounds worth of damage and this time stole over £57,000 in cash from the machines.

In a second spate of attempted thefts in March, he targeted a Post Office in Shepshed, Leicestershire, a petrol station near Doncaster and an ATM in Starbeck near Harrogate.

One of these attempts saw Tunney steal over £35,000 in cash, the court heard.

‘High speed chase’

Around 2am on March 10, a few days after the second spate of attacks, North Yorkshire Police officers spotted one of the stolen vehicles near York.

The vehicle took off at speed as officers followed it with the pursuit continuing for some distance.

It then drove on the wrong side of the A64 and was then seen to crash into the car park barriers at the McArthur Glen York Designer Outlet.

Cops searched the area but officers on the ground could not find Tunney - and two other suspects - until a police helicopter spotted a heat source close to the River Ouse.

Officers found the three men hiding in a tree trunk and they were subsequently arrested.

Tunney plead guilty to all charges and was sentenced to 11 years in prison, plus banned from driving for 8 years.

In November 2020, the other two suspects were charged with conspiracy to cause explosions, conspiracy to commit burglaries and aggravated vehicle taking.

‘Endangered many lives’

North Yorkshire Police Detective Superintendent, Fran Naughton, said: “The sentence given to Tunney today is a clear demonstration that this type of crime will not be tolerated.

"Not only did Tunney and his associates endanger many lives through the dangerous use of explosives, some of which were deployed at fuel forecourts, they caused well in excess of £60,000 damage to a number of businesses.

“These businesses provide essential local services to their communities and many were out of use for extended periods of time whilst repairs were made.

“This has been an extensive investigation, supported through SaferCash and the companies affected by these crimes with many lines of enquiry progressed to ensure these offenders face the consequences of their actions."