Jailed trio ordered to pay back Â£1 each after campaign of burglaries across Warwickshire
Three men who waged a campaign of burglaries at houses throughout Warwickshire in which they took cars worth a total of more than Â£200,000 have been ordered to pay just Â£1 each.
Jay Bennett, Gez Bennett and Tony Barrett had all been jailed last year after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to conspiring to commit burglaries together.
Jay Bennett (24) of Shulmans Walk, Coventry, who also admitted a second conspiracy, dangerous driving and damage being reckless whether life was endangered, was jailed for seven years.
His brother Gez (21) of Gulson Road, Coventry, and Barrett (22) of Haseley Road, Coventry, were both jailed for four years for the conspiracy, with Barrett getting an additional six months for a further offence of theft.
But on that occasion a hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act was adjourned for investigations into their finances.
At the resumed hearing, prosecutor Simon Phillips said it was agreed that Jay Bennett’s benefit from his crimes was £169,600 – while Barrett’s was £27,600 and Gez Bennett’s was £5,100.
But none of the defendants had any available assets – so Recorder Jaqueline Carey made orders that £1 should be confiscated from each of them under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
By making such nominal orders, it means that if any of the three are later found to have other assets, or if they come into any money, it can be seized from them.
During the original hearing Mr Phillips said the main aim of the burglaries committed by the three men was to steal the keys to expensive cars on the drives of the houses they targeted.
The estimated value of the cars targeted by the three of them was £287,000 – and those taken in the later conspiracy in which Jay Bennett took part were worth a further £193,000.
When the keys could not be found, they stole other items including jewellery, and on one occasion Barratt stole a £28,000 BMW from a drive while the owner was in the house after turning the engine on to defrost it.
Mr Phillips said there were nine incidents during the first conspiracy in which all three defendants were involved.
The homes they targeted included a house in Berrington Road, Nuneaton, which they broke into in December 2016 and stole the keys to an Audi A1 worth £22,500 which they then stole.
Bennett then stole a BMW from outside a house in Heather Road, Binley Woods, after the owner had left it with the engine running to defrost.
Moving on to Kenilworth, they broke into a house in Newfield Avenue, where there was an Audi S3 on the drive – but fled empty-handed after setting off the burglar alarm.
They then burgled a house in Anchorway Road, Finham, where, unable to find the keys to the VW Golf on the drive, they stole a £3,000 Breitling watch.
On January 6 2017 there was an attempted burglary at a house in Catesby Road, Rugby, but a man ran off when he was challenged by the householder, who called the police.
Officers found Barrett and Gez Bennett sitting in a car in Ashlawn Road, and arrested them, while across the road in Elms Drive a break-in was taking place at a house with an Audi S3 on the drive - and Mr Phillips said the inference was that Jay was carrying that out while the other two were waiting for him.
Barrett and Gez were granted bail, and on January 12 a £24,000 Audi S3 was stolen from the drive following a burglary at a house in St Nicholas Drive, Nuneaton.
Another A3, this time worth £36,000, was then taken after a burglary at a house in Columbine Way, Bedworth.
Jay then went on to take part in a similar conspiracy, beginning with a burglary on May 25 at The Chesils in Coventry, where the keys to an Audi A7 worth £37,000 were taken.
The next day there was then a break-in at a house in Montague Road, Rugby, but the keys to an expensive Audi on the drive were well-hidden, and nothing was taken.
There was also a burglary at a house in Dreyer Close, Rugby, from where a Renault Clio RS20 ‘hot-hatch’ was stolen.
Then on the evening of June 20 Jay, driving a VW Golf, was involved in a high-speed pursuit through the Coundon area of Coventry, where he ploughed through the garden fences of houses in Scots Lane, demolishing a trampoline in one garden where children had been playing just minutes earlier.