Trio jailed after Barnoldswick burglary spree

David Driver (S).
David Driver (S).

A Bacup man has been jailed for six years for 11 burglaries in Barnoldswick between March and October last year.

David Driver (37), of Farholme Lane, was sentenced at Burnley Crown Court on Wednesday after earlier pleading guilty to conspiracy to burgle 10 non-dwellings and one house in the six-month period.

Ashleigh Fell (S).

Ashleigh Fell (S).

Driver, who has 40 convictions for 96 offences, was also slapped with a criminal anti-social behaviour order banning him from entering Barnoldswick for 10 years.

Also sentenced were Ashleigh Fell (28) and Ryan Raby (31), of Pennine Road, Bacup, who were each given 18-month prison sentences after pleading guilty to conspiracy to handle stolen goods.

Judge Beverley Lunt described Driver as a “thoroughly dishonest burglar” who had targeted Barnoldswick “at night and regularly”, taking substantial amounts of property and “despicably” even charity boxes.

Rosalind Emsley-Smith (prosecuting) told the court that Driver’s pleas related to non-dwelling burglaries at Indian Spice, when £50 in coins was stolen, and Cafe on the Square, when £200 was taken, both in March 2013 and at Nutters Newsagents in May when a total of £430 cash was taken plus a red Pendleside charity box.

Ryan Raby (S).

Ryan Raby (S).

The court heard up to £380 of funds stolen from Nutters had been saved for a community coach trip.

Ms Emsley-Smith said Driver had targeted Jester’s Restaurant in Church Street in July, causing £50 damage when a rear window was smashed, and seven bottles of spirits were stolen valued at £130.

In August, the court was told £2,000 of items were stolen from Shu in Frank Street and on the same weekend, £3,500 stock went from the Full Worx hair salon Rainhall Road.

Ms Emsley-Smith read a victim impact statement to the court from Mary Akrigg, owner of Shu, who said for eight years she had gone to work happy and safe but since the burglary felt hesitant opening the shop and her heart wasn’t in the business any more.

The court also heard Full Worx’s owner looked on Ebay by chance following the burglary and found some of the stolen stock for sale, with two accounts linking directly back to Fell and one to Raby.

But the court was told that wasn’t the end of the burglaries, with Birro’s Shoe Repairs ransacked and £3,900 of items stolen in September, with items later found on Ebay, and an attempt to break into Bardwell Jewellers via the Liberal shop in Frank Street, when £1,000 damage was caused.

Driver’s DNA was found on an outbuilding in Bank Street where he committed another burglary in the adjoining property taking a Playstation 3 and cash.

Police searched Fell and Raby’s house in October last year where items were discovered. As well as Ebay, items were being sold by text messages to family and friends and at a car boot sale in Clitheroe, the court heard.

Keith Harrison (defending Driver) said his client accepted he had been an “unwelcome blight” on Barnoldswick businesses.

He added that Driver had secured nine GCSE’s A-C but seemed to have lost his “moral compass” after a drug problem.

Libby Nicholls (defending Fell) and said her client was a mother of a three-year-old and was a week off her due date for a second child.

She said Fell’s legitimate Ebay account “became a criminal enterprise” after Fell and Raby had been hounded for financial help by Driver’s partner. They lent £600, the court heard, and items were brought round as a repayment.

Mark Stuart (defending Raby) said his client had no previous convictions. Mr Stuart said: “He hasn’t gone looking for criminality, it came to his door. He should’ve turned it away but he didn’t.”

Judge Lunt said Driver had stolen £9,000 of property and was arrested after a member of the public spotted him “prowling around Barnoldswick”. She said: “From that moment, all the burglaries stopped and that’s no coincidence.”

Ahead of sentencing, Driver submitted to the Judge his achievements while in prison and admitted targeting Barnoldswick due to a lack of policing and security on properties. Judge Lunt said while that frankness was “rare”, it showed he had “totally missed the point”.

The Judge said: “You are a career burglar of non-dwelling premises. You have caused untold distress and worry to an entire town.”

Sentencing Fell and Raby, the Judge said text message traffic between Driver and the couple showed they knew exactly what they were doing and what Driver was up to.

She said between £3,000 to £4,000 of items had been discovered in their home and that it was “greed” that they were selling on items while both were in work without money worries.

Judge Lunt said: “You were quite prepared to dupe innocent people into buying stolen property. You were both conducting this as a business on the side.

“You knew the money was well in excess of the money owed to you by Driver’s partner.”