Robbers jailed - Hertfordshire


A gang of robbers who travelled around the M25 from Kent to Hertfordshire to rob a retired man in his remote home were jailed for more than 35 years today, Thursday, 26 July 2012.

The victim Michael Bovingdon was punched and kicked and his wife Ann hid in a bedroom as the masked men raided their 5-bed home, which is set in 5 acres close to the motorway.

Jewellery, cash, a laptop, video recorder and night vision glasses were taken during the robbery on the night of the 15 February this year, St Albans Crown Court heard.

Simon Wilshire, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Mr Bovingdon was in the kitchen of his home ,Nonsuch House, off Theobolds Lane, Waltham Cross having watched a football match on the television when after 10pm four masked men came in through an unlocked door.

The men asked where the safe was. Mr Bovingdon showed them the safe, but could not find the key. One of the men then threatened him. He was punched to the right side of his head and was head-butted. He went to the floor and curled up in a ball where he was kicked.

Rings, a bracelet and chain were taken. When Mr Bovingdon said one of the rings was his father's and had sentimental value it was returned.

Other members of the gang went upstairs where Mrs Bovingdon was hiding in a bedroom. She put a foot against a door to prevent the robbers getting in.

Mr Wilshire went on: "Mrs Bovingdon had called out :Who is it?" and when they realised there was a woman upstairs this appeared to be a trigger for them all to leave."

One man - the shortest of the group at around 5 feet 6 tall - had stayed with Mr Bovingdon and took £200 cash from him in the kitchen as they escaped. In all £380 in cash was taken.

Mr Wilshire said: "Quite why they decided to target Mr Bovingdon's house on that evening is unclear." He said the victim suffered reddening to his face, bruising and cuts to his hands and bruising to his body. As a result of the robbery he spent thousands of pounds on increased security and has to take sleeping tablets.

The Nissan van they were in had been spotted on camera on the Dartford crossing at ten past eight that night. It was seen again parked up in Theolbolds Lane by a Pc Price at ten to nine who made a note of its details. When the robbery was reported, at 10.23, an alert was put out for the van. It was stopped near Bean in Kent close to the A2.

Five men inside were arrested. They were  Kenneth Britcher, 23, of West Street, Wrotham, Kent; Nicky Edwards, 27, of Galapagos House, St Catherine's Road, Maidstone, Kent; Levi Draper, 39, of Plot 14, The Caravan Park, Staplehurst, Kent; Aaron Taylor, 28, of The Chase, Chatham, Kent ,and Jimmy Draper, 35, of Canterbury Street, Gillingham, Kent.

In earlier hearings, Jimmy Draper, Levi Draper and Kenneth Britcher pleaded guilty to robbery on 01 May, Edwards pleaded guilty to robbery in court on 08 May, and Taylor changed his plea to guilty to 26 June.

Taylor also appeared after being convicted of wounding a man with a glass in the smoking area at the Bridge Wardens Pub in Rochester.

For Jimmy Draper, Roy Brown said he had been the driver and had not gone into the house. He accepted it must have been a terrifying ordeal and had expressed "great remorse", he said.

Ben Irwin for Levi Draper said no weapons had been used and there had been no forced entry as the property was unlocked.

For Edwards, Dawn Pearson said he could not explain how he had become embroiled in the robbery and was determined never to be involved crime again.

Simon Molyneux for Taylor said he had shown remorse for both matters.

For Kenneth Britcher, Nermine Abdel Sayed said he was the fourth male in the house and the youngest of the five. She said that he had experienced his first spell in custody while on remand.

Judge Andrew Bright QC told the five: "You have pleaded guilty to taking part in a violent robbery on a retired man in his own home while his wife hid upstairs in a bedroom. I am satisfied this was a a planned and pre-meditated robbery. This was a joint venture robbery. You all took a part. One can only imagine the psychological damage caused to the victim."

Jimmy Draper, Levi Draper and Kenneth Britcher were each jailed for 6-years 9-months, Nicky Edwards received 7-years, and  Aaron Taylor received 7 and a half years for the robbery with an additional 18-months for the wounding.

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