Fourth member of aggravated burglary gang jailed - Welwyn Garden City


A man, who was part of a gang that broke into an elderly couple's home and battered the wife with a metal bar while her husband lay bed-ridden, was jailed for life today, Thursday, 30 July 2015.

Darren Lewis and three other masked men left the 81-year-old womanand her 85-year-old husband utterly terrified and unable to return to their home in Welwyn Garden City, Herts. The husband died three months later.

The gang travelled from South London late at night on 30 July last year after being tipped off by a carer, who had recently stopped working at the house , that the woman kept money under her pillow.

The elderly woman woke in the early hours of 31 July to find a hand over her mouth and four men wearing balaclavas standing around her bed. She tried to activate a panic alarm on a pendant around her neck, but it was snatched from her.

As her frail and ill husband heard what was happening from his bedroom he was unable to do anything to protect his wife. Her room was ransacked and she was thrown out of her bed onto the bedroom floor.

Under her pillow the gang found her purse, with £250 in it, and her mobile phone. They demanded a PIN number for her bank cards and she was struck across the face twice by a metal bar. The prosecution at St Albans Crown Court alleged Lewis was the man with the bar - something he denied.

She was bleeding heavily from cuts to the bridge of her nose, but when the gang demanded her PIN numbers she still had the presence of mind to give them false details. When they tried later in Penge, South London to withdraw money they failed.

Before leaving, the gang hid the couple's landline phone in a kitchen bin and then drove back to South East London.

Lewis, aged 35, of Napier Road, Croydon pleaded guilty, on the first day of his trial on 19 January this year, to aggravated burglary. The court heard he had previous convictions for armed robberies and had spent long periods behind bars. He was jailed for 14 years in 2003 for armed robberies at shops and small businesses.

At an earlier hearing on 02 April, at the Old Bailey, three co-defendants were jailed as follows:

  • Clinton Jackson, aged 25, of Cobden Road, London, was found guilty on 26 January 2015.  He was sentenced to 18 years.
  • Marvin Semper, aged 30, of Seven Oaks Road, Lewisham, pleaded guilty at St Albans Crown Court on 17 November 2014. He was sentenced to 13 years.
  • Marvins brother, Jermaine Kellman, aged 29, of Wayford Street, Wandsworth, also pleaded guilty at St Albans Crown Court on 17 November 2014. He was sentenced to 13 years.

A woman, Tanya Jordan, aged 30, of Palace Square, London, was acquitted by the jury.

Robert Forrest, defending, said Lewis had a history of drug problems. In the days before the raid Lewis had been calling the council for help because he was homeless, he said. "He wants to live a law-abiding life when he is released. He apologises for his conduct. he would like to apologise to Mrs Fisher for the trauma he had caused. He is sorry," said Mr Forrest.

Judge Andrew Bright QC told Lewis: "In my view this was about the most serious case of aggravated burglary as it is possible to imagine." He said the victims had been "utterly terrified." He said Lewis presented a serious danger to the public and passed a life sentence. The minimum term was set at 7 and a half years, meaning he can not apply to be released on licence until he has served at least 7 and a half years.

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