Woman fled as three men burst into home

John­son wept in the dock as he was sen­tenced

Hinckley Times - - FRONT PAGE - SUZY GIB­SON hinck­ley­times@reach­plc.com

A WOMAN fled from her home af­ter three men, one armed with a crow­bar, burst in, a court heard.

She saw a get­away car wait­ing out­side and mem­o­rised the regis­tra­tion num­ber plate, which led to the cap­ture of one of the in­trud­ers.

Le­ices­ter Crown Court was told the ve­hi­cle be­longed to Andrew John­son, 31, whom the vic­tim later picked out in an iden­tity pro­ce­dure as the bur­glar hold­ing the crow­bar.

James Bide-Thomas, pros­e­cut­ing, said the vic­tim’s hus­band had gone out­side the prop­erty in Hinck­ley Road, Bar­well, to in­ves­ti­gate af­ter hear­ing a noise.

While he was search­ing else­where, a group of three, in­clud­ing the de­fen­dant, came in through the front door.

The de­fen­dant, who was wear­ing a hood, told her to get out of the way, but she bravely shouted at him to get out.

“Two other men came in and went up­stairs and she then ran out­side in fear,” said Mr Bide-Thomas.

There was a car with the en­gine run­ning and she kept re­peat­ing the num­ber plate to her­self un­til the gang had left and she could go in­side and write it down. The in­trud­ers had ri­fled about the house, where a busi­ness was also be­ing run, but left emp­ty­handed. John­son, of Or­ton Place, Earl Shilton, de­nied bur­glary with in­tent to steal, claim­ing the house­holder had mis­tak­enly iden­ti­fied him as be­ing in­volved, on Jan­uary 7, 2016. But the jury con­victed him unan­i­mously af­ter a trial.

The de­fen­dant had ear­lier ad­mit­ted han­dling stolen goods, work tools, taken by per­sons un­known from a fac­tory break-in the pre­vi­ous evening - which he had then of­fered for sale.

John­son sobbed in the dock as he was found guilty of the house bur­glary and con­tin­ued to protest his in­no­cence.

The delay in the trial tak­ing place was down to lack of court time and was ad­journed sev­eral times, said Mr BideThomas.

Jail­ing John­son for three years, Judge Ni­cholas Dean QC said: “You’ve been found guilty of the bur­glary of a house used by a cou­ple to run a busi­ness and there must have been an el­e­ment of plan­ning.

“You and oth­ers sus­pected money was held there and thought it was an easy tar­get.”

The Judge told John­son: “You’ve pre­vi­ously been in­volved in bur­glar­ies at com­mer­cial and aban­doned premises, to steal scrap me­tal, but this was a step up for you.

“This home was oc­cu­pied when you and your group or gang went in.

“The com­plainant isn’t el­derly but she was diminu­tive and, to an ex­tent, vul­ner­a­ble ... she ex­hib­ited a de­gree of courage.

“You car­ried a crow­bar which would have been fright­en­ing.

“Three of you en­tered the premises and a fourth per­son was driv­ing the car - your car.”

The judge said he ac­cepted John­son had “vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties” of his own and had since turned his life around for the bet­ter.

Philip Plant, mit­i­gat­ing af­ter the ver­dict, said John­son had a part­ner and a young fam­ily with a third child on the way.

He said the de­fen­dant had been try­ing to dis­tance him­self from pre­vi­ous bad in­flu­ences that had led him into of­fend­ing in the past and was hop­ing to steer clear of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity in fu­ture.

You and oth­ers sus­pected money was held there and thought it was an easy tar­get Judge Ni­cholas Dean QC

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