Gang ransacked houses and stole jewellery, cash, cars – and even children’s milk teeth

A gang carried out a series of well-planned burglaries stealing large quantities of cash, jewellery and luxury cars, a court has heard.

They plundered £45 from a child’s purse in one raid and then took the homeowner’s £16,000 white AMG Mercedes car.

In another break-in, they took a small plastic bag containing the milk teeth of the homeowner’s children along with cash and jewellery.

They used stolen cars with cloned number plates and on one occasion threatened a relative of one of their victim’s with a knife and a screwdriver when he confronted them as they tried to make their escape.

They carried out burglaries in Swansea, Bridgend, Porthcawl and the outskirts of Newport.

Their reign ended when their getaway car flipped onto its roof near a golf course during a 97-mph chase in which they had weaved in and out of traffic in a bid to get away from police.

One member of the gang was found on the golf course’s seventh tee claiming he had lost his dog while out walking.

He said he had slipped and bumped his head but couldn’t explain why he wasn’t wearing any shoes.

South Wales Police have welcomed the jailing of the gang members, and said their major investigation into a string of some 100 burglaries across the region – codenamed Operation Timmia – continues.

Swansea Crown Court heard the first burglary in the spree happened on the afternoon of March 23 last year in Clos Ebol, Cwmrhydyceirw, Morriston.

While the owner of a house, who is in his 70s, was out shopping his property was broken into and ransacked, with every room being searched for items to steal.

The burglars made-off with around £4,000-worth of jewellery including an expensive diamond and sapphire ring. Much of the jewellery had been left as family heirlooms, and was of great sentimental value.

Ian Wight, prosecuting, said police launched an investigation into the burglary, and recovered CCTV footage of a grey Renault Laguna car entering the street, and then leaving after five minutes.

From the footage police were able to identify 18-year-old John Connors, and a boy who cannot be named because of his age. The third person in the car could not be identified.

Just hours later a house in Cwrt Llwyn Fedwen in Morriston – less than two miles from the first break-in – was burgled, with intruders smashing a window and kicking their way through a uPVC door to gain entry.

Again every room in the property was searched, and personal items were strewn around. As well as taking jewellery, a passport and bank documents, and £45 from a child’s purse, the thieves took the homeowner’s £16,000 white AMG Mercedes car.

John Connors

John Connors
(Image: South Wales Police)

Mr Wright said police again recovered CCTV which showed a grey Laguna in the street just before 5.30pm. Officers also recovered a pair of mole grips (a type of pliers) from near the garage of the property which turned out to have Connors’ DNA on them.

The Laguna used in the Morriston burglaries has not been traced.

Two days later the gang struck again, this time near Bridgend.

The court heard that sometime between 4.20pm and 5.30pm a house in Laleston was broken into, with the thieves getting away with a large amount of jewellery, an ornamental sword, a Gurkha knife, and a Mazda 6 car. Mr Wright said the victim described his property as being in a “right mess” when he returned home.

That same day the home of 85-year-old wheelchair-bound man in Nottage, Porthcawl, was targeted in a “distraction” burglary.

Mr Wright said a relative of the victim happened to call in at the victim’s house on Pangbourne Close, and saw a white Mercedes parked across the drive.

As he approached the property the driver of the Merc sounded the horn to raise the alarm, and moments later a number of men dashed from the house – when the relative asked them what they were doing, they pulled a knife and a screwdriver on him, and one of them said: “What do you think we are doing.”

The gang made off in the Mercedes, and police were called – but witnesses had made a note of its registration number, and passed it to officers.

The court heard the homeowner was unharmed, but the burglars had taken some £850 in cash along with jewellery.

Minutes after fleeing the scene the Mercedes was spotted by a South Wales Police traffic officer heading west on the M4 near junction 36 – the officer gave chase.

The Merc sped along the M4 to Briton Ferry, then headed for the travellers site in Giants’ Wharf.

The prosecutor said police saw a number of people running through the site and scrambling over fencing at the rear, and chased them on foot.

Officers then searched the caravans on the site – in one of the units they found William Edward Joyce “sweating profusely” and covered in cuts and grazes, seemingly from scrambling through bramble bushes.

William Edward Joyce, known as Billy

William Edward Joyce, known as Billy
(Image: South Wales Police)

The Mercedes was found on nearby George’s Row – with the doors open and the engine still warm – and though the plates were false, the VIN number on the chassis showed it to be the same car stolen from Morriston a few days earlier.

Inside the car was the sword and Gurkha knife from the Laleston burglary, and the keys to the stolen Mazda. Joyce and Connors’ DNA was subsequently recovered from the steering wheel.

The fifth linked burglary happened some months later on September 26 in St Bride’s near Newport.

Again the property was ransacked, and jewellery and money stolen – along with a small plastic bag containing the milk teeth from the victims’ children. The burglars left the scene in a VW Passat.

Police were alerted to the incident, and a chase ensued with the Passat hitting speeds of 97mph as it tried to escape, “weaving in and out of traffic” as it did so.

Mr Wright said that near the Peterstone golf course the driver of the getaway car lost control, and flipped the vehicle onto its roof – the three occupants fled on foot.

The driver, Patrick McAllister, and one of the passengers, Connors, were caught nearby – the youth from the first Morriston burglary was caught on the seventh tee of the golf course, having changed his clothes.

He initially told officers he had been walking his dog on the golf course and had slipped and bumped his head – though he apparently could not explain why he was not wearing shoes.

Patrick McAllister

Patrick McAllister
(Image: South Wales Police)

The court heard the three defendants were taken to the Royal Gwent Hospital for treatment following the Passat crash, and while there McAllister began abusing and threatening a nurse who asked him to move, telling her that “nobody tells me where to stand or sit down”.

CCTV from the burgled St Bride’s bungalow subsequently showed Connors and the youth inside the property.

The youth, who is now aged 16 and is from Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to one count of burglary when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. The court heard he had already been sentenced to a youth referral order for his part in the Newport burglary.

Connors, aged 18, of Rhossilli Avenue, Rumney, Cardiff, had previously pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary and the theft of the Mercedes when he appeared alongside his fellow teenager.

Joyce, aged 23, of Bonymaen Road, Bonymaen, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary, and the theft of a Mazda car.

McAllister, aged 27, of  the Shirenewton travellers site, Wentloog Road, Rumney, Cardiff, had previously pleaded guilty to burglary, aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, and using threatening or abusive words or behaviour in the hospital.

The court heard Connors had a previous conviction for dangerous driving, Joyce had convictions for shoplifting, robberies, batteries and public order matters, and McAllister had previous convictions for theft, motoring matters, and common assault, and in 2015 had been sentenced at Cardiff Crown Court to 78 months for four burglaries – a sentence later reduced to five-and-a-half years on appeal.

 

Hywel Davies, for the 16-year-old, said his young client had made “great progress” while being held on remand, and “has shown he can change”.

David Leathley, for Connors, said his client had become involved in the “ill-advised adventure” after running up a £1,000 cocaine debt. The barrister added that the teenager is due to become a father in July.

Clare Fear, for McAllister, said her client felt “bitterly disappointed in himself” for having got involved in the burglary as the getaway driver, and said he did so after being offered “an easy way to make money”.

Ian Ibrahim, for Joyce, said the father-of-three had left school at the age of 11 and gone to work in the family scrap business. He said his client realised he had “set an awful example” for his own children.

Judge Patrick Curran QC told then defendants they had been part of gang targeting mainly older victims in a series of well-planned raids.

He said quite apart from the monetary loss to the victims, the burglaries had had a major psychological impact, and had left them feeling insecure and vulnerable in their own homes.

The 16-year-old defendant, who has been on remand since being arrested in November, was made the subject of a intensive supervision and surveillance requirement, and a three-month electronically monitored nightly curfew.

Connors was sentenced to a total of two years and four months in detention, and was banned from driving for three years.

Joyce was sentenced to a total of 36 months in prison, and was also banned from driving for three years.

McAllister – whom the judge referred to as a “determined burglar undeterred by even lengthy prison sentences” – was sentenced to a total of four years and three months. He was disqualified from driving for five years.

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Speaking after the sentencing South Wales Police detective inspector Dave Peart, the officer in charge of the anti-burglary crackdown Operation Timmia, said he welcomed the jail-time for the defendants.

He said: “The sentencings send out a clear message to the public that we are committed to bringing burglars who inflict misery on innocent homeowners to justice.

“These gang members were responsible for a number of break-ins across Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot, and their callous actions left their victims terrified and feeling unsafe in the very place they should feel safest.

“Operation Timmia is a complex investigation in to more than 100 burglaries throughout the division, and while these three are beginning jail terms today, I would like to remind the public that we are still actively investigating and have a number of suspects.”

Article source: https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/gang-ransacked-houses-stole-jewellery-15803464