THREE “professional” burglars have been jailed for a spate of 140 burglaries across Cheshire - including the theft of a Hoole woman’s engagement ring two weeks before her wedding.
The “mastermind” behind the conspiracy, Darryl Kennedy, 51, of West Road, Salford, was jailed for ten years after he admitted commiting the 140 burglaries in Cheshire between April 2013 and January 2014 and asked for another ten, dating back to 2003, to be taken into consideration.
The estimated value of the thefts was around £250,000.
His accomplices, who acted as Kennedy’s driver, were also jailed. Winston Bell, 56, of Mitchells Quay, Manchester, was jailed for four years after he took part in 56 burgalries. Ajaz Ahmed, 45, of Drake Street, Rochdale, was jailed for three years for his part in 27 burglaries.
Another accomplice, Rosemary Pollard, 57, of Elvate Crescent, Manchester, will be sentenced at a later date after she failed to attend at court due to an outbreak of lice in her home.
Prosecuting, Simon Mills, told the court that the burglaries were all carried out by Kennedy with the other defendants acting as drivers. Mr Mills told the court that Kennedy targeted homes in the day time when people were out at work or on holiday which were near to the main arterial roads of Cheshire which enabled the gangs quick return to Manchester.
Mr Mills said: “As well as targeting specific areas, and areas that tehy would often return to burgle again and again, it is a hallmark of Kennedy’s professionalism as a burglar that he targeted unoccupioed dwellings during daylight hours into the evening.”
Mr Mills said Kennedy would gain entry to the properties by forcing UPVC windows and doors with a screwdriver before he carried out untidy searches of the house for valuable items such as laptops, tablets, money, watches and jewellery.
Mr Mills said Kennedy and Bell were arrested on New Year’s Day this year after a member of the public saw two people in a car acting suspiciously. On arrest Bell told police “he’s the thief, Darryl’s the thief”.
Police then found phone records and traced Ahmed and Pollard through text messages asking them to “work” for between £40 and £150 per day.
The offences took place throughout the country with Chester, Warrington, Northwich and their surrounding areas particularly targeted. Hoole was particularly affected.
On September 24, 2013 a high value engagement ring was taken from a home in Hoole, just two weeks before the wedding.
On Christmas Eve, the most prolific day of offending, there were a total of 14 burglaries all close to the A556 in Davenham, Kelsall, Ashton, Mickle Trafford and Vicars Cross. Mr Mills said these were “particularly serious” due to the timing.
Mr Mills told the court that Kennedy had an extensive record of burglary - a total of 12 offences - and had committed so many the maximum term set of six years for conspiracy to commit burglary was too low.
Bell had no previous convictions and Ahmed had one previous conviction for an unrelated matter.
The court also heard a victim impact statement read out by Phil Miles, who lived close to the A556 outside Chester and had been targeted in the week before Christmas. He said: “The intrusion was difficult to process. The property was personal to my wife and we now know this will never be recovered.”
Defending for Kennedy, Nicholas Clarke said that his cilent accepted he was the driving force behind the thefts. Mr Clarke told the court Kennedy was suffering from grandiosity at the time - a personality disorder where you think you are better than everyone else - which meant he did not know the full reaons why he committed the crimes.
Mr Clarke said that Kennedy struggled with alcohol and gambling addictions which was probably why he needed money.
Mr Clarke also said that after Kennedy was arrested he was visited by police investigating the Cyril Smith MP allegations of molesting boys in a Rochdale care home where he once lived as a child and Mr Clarke suggested that he was only finally coming to terms with that.
Mr Clarke said: “Mr Kennedy realises this will be a long sentence. I ask that the tunnel is not too long as he has finally decided to put his criminal past behind him.”
Defending for Bell, Ciaran Rankin, said his client, who was of previous good character, was “ashamed and embarrassed” of his actions. He said he got involved after he fell into gambling debt.
Defending for Ahmed, David Feingold, said his client had “made a real mess of his life”. He said that Ahmed had fallen into debt after tennants in two properties he owns didn’t pay the rent and he needed money.
Jailing them, Judge Elgan Edwards, the Recorder of Chester, said the conspiracy was “professional”.
He said: “It was run by Kennedy like a business, employing staff as if you were working in an office but instead you were reeking misery to many households in Cheshire.
“140 burglaries in total with an estimated value of a quarter of a million pounds. That doesn’t take into account the distress and fear caused.
“It has been brought to an end by the ingenuity and skill of Cheshire Police.”
Judge Edwards jailed Kennedy for 10 years, Bell for four years and Ahmed for three years.
He also gave the ten investigating officers in the case a Crown Court Commendation for their work.
Supt. Paul Williams who lead the investigation said "This is a great result for the victims of these burglaries, to know that the people responsible for violating their homes and their privacy and causing them distress are being held to account.
"It should also be reassuring for the people of Cheshire to know that that they are no longer free to commit these crimes and cause distress to anyone else. These people were responsible for a dramatic increase in the number of burglaries in homes across Cheshire and it was our priority to put a stop to their activities.
"The result today has come after months of hard work involving officers and staff from across the county and shows that Cheshire Police are determined to catch the people responsible for committing these crimes."
See full story in the Chester Leader