A gang spread “misery” burgling 28 homes in a month long cross-border crime spree.
Joshua John Roberts, Connor Carl Birchall-Roberts, Ewan McKenzie, Steven Kenneth Wayne Davies and Tyler Gemma Fenlon, were sentenced at Caernarfon Crown Court after houses across Wrexham, Flintshire and Cheshire were broken into and ransacked, usually when the occupiers were on holiday.
In total more than £114,000 of goods including jewellery, handbags, perfume, electrical items, cash, cards, and items “of great sentimental value” including war medals, were stolen, some which have not been recovered, between January 5 and February 5 2020.
Keys were also snatched to steal cars from the owners, some of which were used in other crimes and in one incident was involved in a crash. Many were found abandoned later, the court heard.
Prosecutor Jade Tufail said on a couple of occasions alarms went off deterring them, on another neighbours chased them off, but one of the gang brandished a knife and in another raid, a family member was in the house and locked himself in the bedroom, to call the police.
One was the home of a lady who had recently died , but the grieving son had not had the opportunity to clear the property.
Police eventually caught up with them, when they visited a house on Bradley Road, Wrexham, on February 5, to arrest Roberts.
They found the 27-year-old there, with Davies, Birchall-Roberts and Fenlon, with many of the stolen items. McKenzie was arrested days later.
Roberts, 27, was sentenced to seven years and six months; Birchall-Roberts, 21, was handed six years after they admitted conspiracy to burgle. Addresses for both were given as HMP Berwyn.
McKenzie, 21, of Heol Islwyn, Coedpoeth – who admitted conspiracy to burgle on four of the occasions – was given a four years and three months jail term.
Fenlon, 19, of Park Road, Coedpoeth, admitted handling stolen goods and was given a 12 month community order, with a rehabilitation requirment.
Davies, 48, of Bradley Road, Wrexham, also admitted handling stolen goods and was handed an 18 month community order, with rehabilitation requirements.
Except for Fenlon, who had one offence of battery, the others all had extensive convictions, including for theft and burglary in the cases of Roberts, Birchall-Roberts and McKenzie; and including one for dishonesty in Davies’ case.
Victim impact statements read out said, some had been left with trouble sleeping, while others felt “terrified”, “violated” and “fearful.”
Their defences said they had indicated early guilty pleas, Roberts had admitted he needed “to grow up” and change his ways, Birchall-Roberts had mental health issues and his family wanted to support him, Davies also had mental health issues, while Fenlon had shown her good side looking after her blind, disabled gran.
Judge Nicola Jones, who passed sentence, said they had caused “misery”.
“These offences have significantly impacted your victims,” she said, with many suffering “anxiety”, having to spend money on extra security or having to take time off work.
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Judge Jones added: “Many have lost irreplaceable family heirlooms and jewellery, medals, including the Military Cross.”
Detective Inspector Mark Hughes said: “Operation Blue Leather was an investigation into a series of burglaries between January 5 and February 5 2020 in which a substantial amount of property was stolen, causing great distress to many people.
“I am delighted at these sentences which demonstrate that there are serious consequences for such crimes and which will I hope reassure the public that we are determined to pursue burglars and bring them to justice.”
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