Three men who were part of a burglary team that went on an afternoon crime spree targeting homes in South Hertfordshire and North West London were jailed for a total of twelve years and nine months yesterday (Tuesday).
Using a stolen Mercedes to drive from house to house, John Cawley, 24, Martin Cassidy, 27, and Errol Flynn, 25, eventually decided to have a break from burglary and get something to eat by calling in at a Harvester restaurant in Bushey.
There, said prosecutor Jan Haynes, CCTV caught Cassidy and Cawley standing at the bar and paying with money from thick wads of cash taken in the break-ins.
Jailing the men at St Albans crown court, Judge Stephen Warner told the men “It’s quite clear there was a callous indifference to the feelings of people whose homes you had broken into.”
The judge described the gang’s crime spree on the afternoon of August 14 last year as a “planned, professional operation.”
The stolen Mercedes they were in had had the number plates changed with another fake pair that were inside the vehicle.
The gang first struck early that afternoon in Borehamwood when Flynn, on his own, broke into an unoccupied house in Ashley Drive in the town.
Two thousand pounds in cash was taken, along with jewellery and a wedding ring.
Fortunately the jewellery was recovered, but the cash wasn’t.
Half an hour later, Cawley tried to steal a BMW sports car parked outside the owner’s home in Shenley.
Luckily the owner’s wife saw him trying to get into the car and Cawley was forced to make off empty handed, running to where his partners in crime were waiting in the Mercedes.
The gang then made their way to Pinner where, in Royston Park Road, Cawley broke into a property and stole a safe and its contents.
From there the gang drove to Harrow, but they were forced to make off from a house in Jubilee Close that they had broken into after being spotted.
Bushey was the next on the list for the gang to visit and, in Great Grove in the town, Cassidy and Flynn broke into a house taking jewellery and thousands of pounds in cash.
Miss Haynes said that by now police were on the trail of the gang, having been alerted to the break-ins by members of the public.
They swamped the area as they tried to locate the Mercedes, which they knew the burglars were using.
In the car park of the Harvester restaurant in Bushey, officers located it.
There was a short car chase when the gang tried to get away in the vehicle, said Miss Haynes.
Flynn was behind the wheel and headed for Stanmore.
On Stanmore Hill and other roads in Bushey, he drove dangerously and eventually the car was brought to a halt when police deployed a “stinger device” which punctured a tyre on the car.
Cawley was found hiding in shrubbery with £565 stashed in his pockets which had come from the break-ins that afternoon.
The other two were arrested later, having made off from the car.
Passing sentence on the three men, Judge Warner told them that dwelling house burglary was a serious offence because they had intruded into people’s homes, which were places they were entitled to feel safe.
Cawley, of no fixed address, who admitted handling, the attempted theft of the BMW and burgling the property in Pinner, was jailed for a total of three years and three months.
Cassidy, of Stanborough Avenue, Borehamwood, who admitted handling, attempted burglary at the Harrow property and breaking into the house in Bushey, was jailed for four years.
Finally Flynn, of Hillary Road, Shepherds Bush, who admitted dangerous driving, burglary at the Borehamwood property and the burglary at the Bushey address, was jailed for five and a half years.
He was also disqualified from driving for six years and 11 months and told he will have to take an extended driving test before he can get behind the wheel of a car again.