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Suspicions of staff led police to stolen goods

By Katia Harston, Chief Reporter Sunday 26th January 2014

Suspicious staff at a Barnsley hostel for the young homeless became alarmed at the volume of high-value goods being brought in by some residents.


They called the police who searched rooms at The Forge on Wakefield Road, Barnsley, and used a tracker device on some stolen property to uncover a haul of goods stolen in a week.


Thomas Shaw, 18, of Brampton Road, Wath, Damon Gummer, 20, of Park View, Barnsley, and Ian Clarke, 23, of Highstone Road, Worsbrough Common, all appeared at Sheffield Crown Court. Shaw admitted three burglaries, Clarke two burglaries and Gummer three offences of handling stolen goods.


Kath Goddard, prosecuting, said all three defendants were living at the sheltered accommodation last June when the loot was recovered. A mountain bike stolen from a shed on June 23 belonging to Janet Brown was found at The Forge. Two days later an elderly lady, Margaret Spence, was burgled in her adapted bungalow and lost a flat-screen TV, mobile, stereo and her purse containing £100 and bank cards.


She said it had left her 'scared and vulnerable' in her own home. Clarke took the TV to a Cash Converters store and sold it for £55, said Miss Goddard. The rest of the property was found at The Forge.


On June 29 a couple and their children were in bed when there was a break-in at their house and two iPads, a laptop computer, an iPhone, a Blackberry, a Nintendo DS and a wallet were stolen, along with a set of car keys. The stolen property, apart from the keys, was found at The Forge.


Nawaz Hussain, for Shaw, said he had made a full and frank confession and he 'clearly wasn't the leader of this enterprise'. He had acted on impulse and had not come into contact with the victims and was now living with a friend.


Robert Sandford, for Clarke, said he was of low intellectual ability and had gone to a special school. He had early family problems and was a 'vulnerable' young man easily influenced by others. He was now living with his girlfriend who is the mother of their three-year-old child.


Amy Earnshaw, for Gummer, said he was not involved in any of the burglaries but had handled the stolen bike and the TV. He now lives with his girlfriend and they have a seven-month-old daughter.


Judge Paul Watson told Shaw and Clarke: "You two were residing at the Forge hostel when you embarked on a series of burglaries." They had both been involved in the break-in at the elderly lady's home.


"Her independence has been shattered as a result of what you did," Both were jailed for nine months and Gummer received a community order of 200 hours unpaid work.