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Two gang members ordered to pay back just £1 after £90k farm raid

PUBLISHED: 06:00 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:37 07 February 2020

CCTV from a Necton farm in September 2018. Photo: Norfolk police

CCTV from a Necton farm in September 2018. Photo: Norfolk police

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Two gang members who targeted an isolated rural farm and stole high value items such as power tools and quad bikes totalling more than £90,000 have been ordered to pay back just £1.

Tony Gaskin. Photo: Norfolk policeTony Gaskin. Photo: Norfolk police

The thefts took place over a six-month period, leaving hard-pressed farmers angry and inconvenienced by the loss of vital equipment for their business.

Norwich Crown Court had heard John Watson, 32 of no fixed abode, was involved in four burglaries, four thefts and an attempted break-in.

He admitted the offences, as well as being in breach of a Criminal Behaviour Order not to enter the Splashes site in Swaffham.

Tony Gaskin, 21, of Tennyson Road, Rushden, in Northamptonshire, was also involved in the conspiracy, admitting three thefts and four burglaries and a 17-year-old youth, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, admitted two thefts.

John Watson. Photo: Norfolk policeJohn Watson. Photo: Norfolk police

All three appeared back in court on Thursday (February 6) for a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing.

Jude Durr, prosecuting, said the total benefit figure for all three defendants was £96,792.40.

However he said the available amount for Gaskin and the 17-year-old was a nominal sum of just £1.

Judge Andrew Shaw ordered that they pay back £1 within 28 days or serve one day's imprisonment in default.

Mr Durr said the case of Watson was slightly different in that £9,085 was found at his address following a police search of his address in 2018.

Watson claimed that £3,000 of the £9,085 belonged to his three-and-a-half year old son, but Judge Shaw ruled that he pay back the entire amount within 28 days or serve six months in default.

In November last year Watson was jailed for three years, Gaskin for 18 months and the 17-year-old received a 12-month referral order.

John Morgans, prosecuting, said a significant degree of planning was behind the thefts, which took place between August 2018 and February last year in the Breckland and West Norfolk areas.

Sentencing them, Judge Anthony Bate said: "The losers all state a sense of anger and annoyance at the loss and all the thefts caused inconvenience to the many hard-pressed farmers, who can ill-afford to lose valuable equipment."

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