‘Justice has been done’ – Charity box thieves jailed after smash and grab raids
- Credit: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY
Two Suffolk men who stole charity boxes and £7,500 of cigarettes during two shop burglaries in Essex have each been jailed for 27 months.
Five charity boxes for the Essex Air Ambulance, St Helena Hospice in Colchester, the Poppy Appeal, a hospice in Chelmsford and a lifeboat charity were stolen from Fork Andles hardware shop in the High Street, Earls Colne on April 4, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
The occupants of a flat above the premises were disturbed by a noise but stayed in their flat after the shop alarm went off, said Raj Joshi, prosecuting.
Police arrived and found the front door to the shop had been forced open - causing damage to the lock - and as well as the five missing charity boxes, stock had been thrown on the floor.
Less than 30 minutes later police received a report of a break-in at the Co-op store in Swan Street in Sible Hedingham which was a 15-minute drive away from Earls Colne.
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A spade had been used to gain entry to the premises and cigarettes worth £7,500 were stolen as well as an Essex Air Ambulance money box, Mr Joshi said.
One of the cigarette boxes contained a tracking device which led police to Elm Close in Haverhill, where Paul Batterbee and Jamie Darby were found with a large quantity of cigarettes.
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Darby, 39, of Westfield, Sudbury and Batterbee, 39, of Eastern Avenue, Haverhill each admitted two offences of burglary.
Darby also admitted theft, taking a vehicle without the owner's consent and asked for 22 offences to be considered.
Mr Joshi said that in July last year Darby had gone to the home of his 78-year-old uncle in Haverhill and asked him for money.
Darby's uncle was aware that his nephew was a drug addict and during the argument that followed Darby had taken his uncle's car keys and had driven off in his car.
The vehicle was later recovered seven miles away in Clare, Mr Joshi added.
Simon Gladwell for Darby and Batterbee said both men had been using drugs and wanted to turn their lives around.
He said that all Batterbee's offending in the past had been drug related.
Peter Lewis, who owns Fork Andles with his wife Jenny, said: "It's nice to see that justice has been done.
"If it was me they would be given longer but I suppose it is good to know they are off the street - at least for a while."