Judge jails gang responsible for more than 200 burglaries across East Anglia to more than 70 years in prison

The nine men who have been found guilty of conspiracy to burgle. Picture: Cambridgeshire Police

The nine men who have been found guilty of conspiracy to burgle. Picture: Cambridgeshire Police - Credit: Archant

Members of an organised crime gang involved in more than 200 burglaries across the East of England have today been jailed for a total of more than 70 years.

Almost 100 of the 200 raids, which cost victims more victims more than £2m, were carried out in Norfolk, across 33 towns and villages.

The gang carried out more than 200 burglaries last year during an 11-month crime spree.

Twelve members of the gang appeared at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday (December 6) to be sentenced for conspiracy to commit burglary of both homes and businesses between February to December last year across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

Nine of the gang, mostly family members, had all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

Simon Oakley. PIC: Staff photographer

Simon Oakley. PIC: Staff photographer - Credit: Archant

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Three other gang members were found guilty of handling stolen goods during a trial which finished at Norwich Crown Court last month.

Jailing the gang for a total of 71 years, Judge Stephen Holt said domestic burglaries 'devastate' people's lives and that has been shown to be the case with numerous victims in this case.

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Judge Holt said in his almost 40 years involvement in the courts' system, he did not think he had come across such a case.

He said: 'I don't think I've ever come across as serious a conspiracy to burgle in terms of the sheer amounts stolen, the number of properties broken into and most importantly the lives left devastated by people having their homes invaded and damaged by you.'

James Pateman. Picture: Staff photographer

James Pateman. Picture: Staff photographer - Credit: Archant

Sentencing the gang Judge Holt, described John Eli Loveridge, 42, as a 'professional career criminal' before passing a seven and a half year sentence on Loveridge, of Greenways, Carleton Rode, Norfolk.

John Stanley Loveridge, 23, of Greenways, Carleton Rode, Norfolk, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.

Charlie Albert Webb, 20, from Newton Flotman, Norfolk, who the judge said was 'very actively involved right the way through' was sentenced to five years at a young offenders institute (YOI).

Timothy Stone-Parker, 24, of Clay Way, Ely, was jailed for six and a half years.

A rifle found in the boot of their car. Picture: Cambridge Police

A rifle found in the boot of their car. Picture: Cambridge Police - Credit: Archant

Danny Stone-Parker, 28, of Braintree Road, Great Dunmow, was jailed for six and a half years in prison.

Joe John Spencer Loveridge, 19, of Winchester Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire, was sentenced to four years in a Young Offenders Institute (YOI).

Joseph Holmes, 21, of Schole Road, Willingham, was sentenced to four years in prison.

Johnny Oakley, 25, of Sandy Park, Beck Row, Suffolk, was jailed for five and a half years.

Richard Oakley, 27, of Sandy Park, Beck Row, Suffolk, was jailed for five years.

Simon Oakley, of Alburgh Road, Hempnall, Norfolk, who was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle was said to have played a 'vital role' and was one of the 'leading members of this conspiracy'.

The 45-year-old, who owns Stratton Quick Fit, a garage and workshop at Elite Business Park, in Salamanca Road, Long Stratton, had previously admitted possession of a firearm without a certificate and handling stolen goods.

He provided false registration plates to the gang and directed others to commit crime. He helped to hide stolen vehicles and pass them off as legitimate.

He was sentenced to a total of nine years imprisonment.

James Pateman, 55, of no fixed abode, and his brother, Thomas Pateman, 54, of Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridge, were also been convicted of handling stolen goods.

James was jailed for three and a half years and Thomas was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

Will Carter, prosecuting, had yesterday (Wednesday, December 5) outlined the crown's case.

He said that the gang committed 200 burglaries and the loss to victims, where known, exceeded £1.5m, while the cost of damages was £55,000.

'It will become quite clear that the actual loss is considerably higher than that, the reason being in many cases we simply don't know the value of the property,' the barrister said.

There were also burglaries of businesses to provide the gang with vehicles and equipment needed in the course of other offences, as well as attacks on businesses to remove ATM machines, the court was told.

The gang stole cash, jewellery, high-performance cars and firearms, the court heard.

Mr Carter said: 'It's never been the prosecution case that every defendant participated in each and every burglary. It is quite clear they didn't.

But the fact is this was a conspiracy by the defendants, each of the defendants knew the activities of the group, each was a member of the group.'

He added: 'The scale of offending by this gang was such that, since their arrests, the incidents of burglary of this nature has fallen dramatically in the affected counties.'

The court heard summaries of a succession of burglaries and raids committed last year. Mr Carter said, 'Generally, but not always, the occupants were out.'

He referred to a burglary at Horn Pie Road in Norwich in March, when members of the gang stole jewellery and watches worth £43,926.

The barrister read from a statement prepared by the victim, who was five months pregnant at the time. She said that she was at home, having an afternoon nap, when she was woken by the sound of breaking glass. She went onto the landing and asked who was there, the court heard, but did not receive any reply.

The court was told that she began to walk down the stairs when she saw a man in the hallway, who started to run up the stairs toward her and she ran into her bedroom, locking the door.

During nine burglaries committed between March 6 and 8 the gang stole jewellery worth £56,956, the court heard.

Another victim, whose house was burgled on March 12, said that the crime had turned her 'idyllic home into a part-dream, part-nightmare'.

In April, the court heard, the gang burgled 11 houses over the course of ten days - taking cash and jewellery worth £61,500.

On April 11 during a raid on an ATM in Longstanton in Cambridgeshire the gang stole £51,990, the court was told, while on May 18 cash and jewellery worth £34,080 was stolen.

Of the other victims in the case, one said they now suffered 'panic attacks' and now 'don't feel safe in my own home'.

Another said the burglary was still 'really affecting me and my mother' with both not feeling safe in their own home.

Another victim said they 'feared for the safety of my daughter' following the break-in.

The court heard another victim had described how his 'stress levels had gone through the roof' following the burglary.

Jonathan Morgans, mitigating for John Eli Loveridge, said this defendant was a 'serving prisoner' for most of the offences and was only involved 'towards the end of this conspiracy'.

He said: 'It's a very short period of time in the context of this indictment and for a very few offences'

Jude Durr, mitigating for John Stanley Loveridge, said his client's strongest piece of mitigation should be his credit for plea.

He said: 'This young man is willing to face the music and recognised that he's still got a lot of work to do to turn his life around'.

Jamil Mohammed, for Charlie Webb, said he was one of the youngest to be sentenced and was only 18 at the time.

He said he was otherwise of good character but had got his girlfriend pregnant and got involved in the conspiracy because 'desperate times meant desperate measures'.

He said because of his 'lack of maturity he did get involved'.

But he described it as a 'blip' in his life and said he got involved after being exploited and said he has learning disabilities and is blind in one eye.

Isobel Ascherson, for Tim and Daniel Stone Parker, said Timothy was aged between 21 and 22 at the time of the offences.

She said both had admitted their guilt in terms of the conspiracy and the planning. She said both have expressed their remorse and regret.

Hugh Vass, for Joe Jonn Loveridge, said his client was 'the youngest' involved in the conspiracy but had pleaded guilty to the offences.

He said he had been taking alcohol and cocaine at the time which is why he got involved.

He said his client recognised it was a 'mugs game' and now wanted to go straight.

Peter Hunter, for Joseph Holmes , said he had got involved due to a drugs debt and had lost a cousin.

He said he was in 'freefall' at just 20 years of age and was know in prison as a result of being involved in this conspiracy for six weeks of his life. He washed to apologise to his family and the victims

Dan Taylor, for Johnny and Richard Oakley, said their involvement was 'limited to around four weeks' and had played a 'lesser role' in the conspiracy.

He said that Johnny, who had been of previous good character, was addicted to drugs, alcohol and gambling and got involved to 'fund that addiction'.

He said he was 'extremely remorseful'.

In terms of Richard, said until these offences had led a 'law abiding life' but 'fell off the rails' following difficulties in his personal relationships and problems with drugs and alcohol.

He said the family felt the brothers had 'brought shame' on their family.

Michael Clare, for Simon Oakley, said although the prosecution assert he was at the highest end of the conspiracy his culpability was no more than providing false number plates.

He said there was no evidence of him socialising with other members of the gang or being involved in the burglaries.

Ian James, mitigating for Thomas Pateman, said his client was convicted of handling and it would be wrong to sentence him in respect of the conspiracy.

He said he had been out of trouble since 2002, had a lack of 'criminal sophistication'.

Mark Roochove, for James Pateman, said this defendant cared for his father who had cancer and has suffered heart attacks and had a 31-year-old son with Down's Syndrome.

His partner is also unwell as is he and Mr Roochove said there were 'many dependents' who relied on this defendant.

He urged the court to consider suspending his sentence.

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