SEVEN men who carried out a spate of burglaries in which more than £100,000 of gold jewellery was stolen have been jailed for a total of 37 years.
The targeted raids, which caused distress among Blackburn’s Asian community, included a number during Ramadan when householders were at mosque.
Operating in groups of three or four, the raiders broke into the upmarket homes, stealing high-value sentimental jewellery, much of which had been given as wedding gifts and passed down through the generations.
In all but two of the 21 break-ins, the burglars fled before homeowners returned to find a trail of destruction caused by ransacking efforts to find gold.
In one house, wooden panels were removed from the walls as burglars searched the property. Others had metal safes taken, along with large quantities of cash, mobile phones and electrical equipment.
At one home, more than £25,000 of gold jewellery was stolen. Another was looted for £12,500 of jewellery and £5,000 cash.
Judge Stuart Baker, sentencing at Preston Crown Court, said the conspiracy was ‘planned with considerable care’ as he handed down prison sentences.
The properties were raided in the conspiracy which spanned three months over the summer of 2014.
He said: “These burglaries weren’t opportunistic but we’re planned with considerable care.
“The burglars came from in and around Manchester and it is an irresistible inference that the burglaries were targeted against members of the Asian community within Blackburn.”
Benjamin Breheney, 24, of Arbor Drive, Manchester was jailed for eight years; Daniel Weaver, 22, of HMP Manchester, was jailed for six years two months; Nikeele Locke, 21, of Broadlea Road, Manchester was sentenced to six years; Jumaane Bruce, 23, of HMP Manchester was jailed for five years eight months to be served consecutively to a current sentence for firearms discharge; Carl Hayward, 28, of Brailsford Road, Manchester, was given five years behind bars; Anthony McKenna, 28, of William Jessop Court, Manchester was jailed for three years four months; and Dean Kieran, 30, of Barcicroft Road, Manchester was also jailed for three years and four months.
All had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle.
Danielle Price, 24, of Brailsford Road, Manchester, pleaded guilty to acts tending to pervert the course of justice after providing a false alibi for her partner Carl Hayward.
She was given 12 months in jail, suspended for two years, with 120 hours of unpaid work.
The court heard statements from victims who were left terrified to leave their homes for fear of being burgled.
Det Con Dave Bowler, of Blackburn CID, said: “We are pleased with the sentences handed out to the defendants. They reflect the impact these burglaries had on the Asian community in Blackburn.
“Many of the burglaries were high value and perhaps more importantly many of the items stolen were of sentimental value and have never been recovered.
”A total of 21 Asian families were the victim of burglary at the hands of this organised crime group from Manchester.
“I hope these custodial sentences bring them some comfort and also deter other criminals from travelling to Lancashire to commit these types of offences.”
[“source – lancashiretelegraph.co.uk”]