Couple sentenced after Leamington enterprise hub ransacked in burglary blitz
Every single business at a Leamington enterprise hub was broken into, losing more than Â£40,000 worth of property, during a burglary blitz carried out over a single weekend.
Burglar Kevin Woodward, who had been joined on one of the raids by his partner Sian O’Driscoll, was identified from a CCTV recording, Warwick Crown Court heard.
But by the time the couple was arrested at the home of a friend where they were staying at the time, Woodward had carried out yet more break-ins at the Althorpe Enterprise Hub.
After the couple pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle, Woodward, 41, of no fixed address, who also admitted two further burglaries at the premises, was jailed for 32 months.
But O’Driscoll, 27, of Denby Close, Leamington, who entered her plea on the basis of taking part in just one visit to the premises, was given a 12-month community sentence and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work.
Prosecutor Aadhithya Anbahan said the Enterprise Hub in Althorpe Street, Leamington, was set up by Warwick District Council to help small and start-up businesses, and there were 17 offices occupied by 13 businesses.
CCTV at the premises one weekend in November last year showed Woodward turning up at 9am and scouting the building before trying to open one of the windows.
Having been unsuccessful, he left and returned with a brick which he used to smash the window before making off.
He returned 90 minutes later and was captured putting on a pair of gloves and climbing in before leaving again.
At just after midday Woodward returned with O’Driscoll and, armed with a spade, they climbed into the premises where they used the spade to force open office doors.
They escaped carrying two bags of property including phones, tablets, computer equipment and other electrical items.
Woodward and another person returned on 11 further occasions later that day, during which they forced their way into all 13 businesses and stole property worth a total of £42,816.
Then just over two weeks later on December 6, Woodward carried out two further burglaries at the Enterprise Hub, stealing similar property worth around £13,000.
But after the council had provided the CCTV recordings to the police, officers identified Woodward as one of the intruders.
And O’Driscoll was recognised as someone who had been seen carrying a computer screen down the street towards nearby Rusina Court, where they were living with a friend at the time.
Miss Anbahan added that Woodward had previous convictions for 77 offences, including nine burglaries, and was on licence at the time from a 30-month sentence for supplying cocaine, while O’Driscoll had just one conviction for a public order offence.
John Evans, for Woodward, pointed out: “He makes it clear that although he’s clearly responsible for a conspiracy, his position is that it wasn’t him on every occasion.
“He is a person who commits crimes in large part to fund his addiction to class A drugs, and now, in a clean state in prison, he wishes to apologise to the victims.”
Paul O’Keeffe, for O’Driscoll, said she was ‘dabbling with drugs’ at the time, but has been clean since December and was now living back with her parents.
He pointed out she entered her plea on the basis that it had not been her idea, and she had gone along on one occasion and assisted by carrying a computer out, and then refused to go back.
Sentencing them, Judge Anthony Potter told Woodward: “The Enterprise Hub is a premises established by the council, giving local businesses who operate on a small scale the opportunity to do so from a base with low overheads. They aren’t large businesses with the ability to absorb large losses.
“You cynically visited those premises and having without too much difficulty broken in, you returned on a number of occasions. The premises were burgled on some 13 occasions, although I accept not always by you. Each and every business at the premises was burgled.”
And told O’Driscoll: “You went along with him on one occasion. Had you continued to do so, I would have sent you to prison as well.”