Three burglars who stole more than £500,000 of items after targeting the homes of wealthy targets including footballer Raheem Sterling have been jailed for a total of more than 20 years.
Thomas Mee, 42, Vincent Ball, 52 and John Barlow, 58, all from Liverpool, broke into the home of Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay as well as the homes of Bury FC chairman Steve Dale and Mansfield Town FC owner John Radford.
The trio had previously admitted conspiracy to burgle homes.
Thomas Mee, 42, Vincent Ball, 52, and John Barlow, 58, all from Liverpool, were sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Monday after admitting conspiracy to burgle, a spokesman for Cheshire Police said.
Jamiroquai singer Jay Kay’s house in Buckinghamshire was among those targeted by the gang, as well as the homes of Bury FC chairman Steve Dale and Mansfield Town FC owner John Radford.
Mee, of HMP Altcourse, who also admitted handling stolen goods, was jailed for eight years and seven months.
Getaway driver Ball, of Ranworth Place, Liverpool, was sentenced to six years and nine months, while Barlow, of no fixed address, was jailed for seven years and six months.
During their trial, Simon Parry, prosecuting, said: “These three defendants are a team of highly organised and sophisticated house burglars who have travelled to various parts of the UK, including here in Cheshire.”
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He said the three targeted the homes of “high-wealth individuals” and used sophisticated techniques such as cloned number plates and “dirty phones” to avoid detection.
The court heard the defendants attempted to burgle Sterling’s home in Goostrey, Cheshire, on November 4, 2018.
Simon Parry, prosecuting, said: “Fortunately the alarm system at the address activated and scared the burglars away. Nothing was taken.”
Ten days later, on November 14 2018, the three men checked into a hotel in Buckinghamshire and later Kay’s home, Horsenden Manor, was targeted.
Mr Parry said the singer’s housekeeper noticed an upstairs window was open and found a camera had been stolen.
A total of more than £550,000 of jewellery, watches and handbags was taken from 14 properties across Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire between November 2018 and October 2019, the court heard.
Photos of some of the handbags were found on the phone of Mee, who admitted handling stolen goods.
In a statement read to the court, Cheryl Batson, who had £146,000 worth of jewellery and handbags, as well as a Louis Vuitton scarf, taken from her home in Willaston, Cheshire, said she suffered anxiety and distress after the raid.
The case was heard at Chester Crown Court(Image: MEN Media)
She said: “I have a heartbreaking feeling of loss over the sentimental pieces of jewellery which belonged to my late grandmother.
“I cannot stress enough the heartache I feel over having these items taken from me.”
On October 5 2019, the burglars were disturbed while in the Prestbury home of Mr Dale.
Watches worth between £300,000 and £500,000 were dropped by the intruders as Mr Dale’s son chased them, and they left the property with only a £10 note.
They were later arrested and items including balaclavas, binoculars, crow bars and cloned number plates were found in a car used by the men.
Officers also found £125,000 in cash during a search of one of Mee’s properties.
Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett branded Mee “ignorant and selfish” for posting a letter to the home of one of his victims to express his remorse.
Anthony Russell, whose property in Lymm, Cheshire, was broken into by the gang, said: “I only hope this is absolutely genuine but perhaps we would really have preferred not to receive this letter.”