December 12 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
A man who had more than £12,000 worth of property stolen while he and his family were away on holiday by a gang of burglars has spoken out about the devastating effect the crime has had on his family.
Martin Wildey, Jamie Lowe, and Dale Soames, who targeted homes across Norwich and south Norfolk, have been jailed for more than 11-and-a-half years after breaking into homes in Norwich, Hevingham, Wicklewood and Brooke stealing jewellery, electrical items and even wrapped Christmas presents between September 2012 and last January.
The trio appeared at Norwich Crown Court earlier this month to be sentenced, having previously pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary each, at a hearing also attended by Robert Lewis, one of the gang’s victims.
Mr Lewis, a 35-year-old father-of-two from Brooke, south of Norwich, had gone away on holiday in October last year with his wife Paula and their two children when they were targeted by the gang who made several trips between Brooke and Norwich to deposit the stolen property.
They broke in by smashing a window and ransacked the address leaving belongings strewn across floors in each room.
They took more than £12,000 worth of property including firearms, fishing rods, cash, games consoles, computer equipment and a large amount of jewellery.
Mr Lewis, a service manager at a garage, said what confronted the family when they returned from their break, was “like something out of the movies”.
He said: “The house had been ransacked. It really was... I can only really describe it as a scene from the movies – that’s really how it was, properly turned over. We were devastated.”
While the burglary has affected all the family, it proved particularly traumatic for Mr Lewis’s son, who is now 10 and whose room the burglars got in through.
He said: “He wouldn’t go in there for a couple of weeks and now he won’t sleep without a night light.”
The family have since increased security measures at the property to try to protect themselves from any repeat but Mr Lewis admits he worried that his shotguns have not been recovered and are “in someone’s hands they shouldn’t be”.
He said: “My biggest concern is that the guns are still missing”.
The burglars were arrested in January following a series of dawn raids by officers investigating burglaries and handling stolen goods,
Mr Lewis said he was “quite pleased” with the sentences and grateful to police for catching the offenders and for their support throughout the ordeal.
Investigating officer, Detective Constable Craig Turner, said he was pleased to see the gang, who he described as an “extremely active crime group”, now behind bars insisting their sentences should “serve as a clear warning to others involved in burglary and handling offences”.
He said: “House burglary is an intrusive crime and to steal wrapped presents days before Christmas shows the level of disregard Lowe, Wildey and Soames had for their victims.
He added: “Being a victim of a burglary is extremely traumatic and the effect it can have on individuals is quite significant.”
Wildey, 23, of no fixed abode, who asked for 26 similar offences to be taken into consideration was jailed for four years.
Lowe, 24, of Union Street, Norwich, who was also charged with fraud by false representation, and two counts of handling stolen goods and asked for seven similar offences to be taken into consideration was jailed for three-and-a-half years.
Soames, 30, of Newton Close, Newton St Faith, who had 39 similar offences taken into consideration, was also jailed for three-and-a-half years.
A fourth defendant, Sean Curtis, 29, of Milestone Close, Norwich, who accepted stolen property from the group, was also sentenced after admitting four counts of receiving stolen goods.