Pair jailed for ‘campaign’ of burglary across Leeds

TWO prolific offenders have been jailed for their involvement in a burglary conspiracy worth almost £300,000 in which 18 homes across Leeds were targeted.

Michael Sawnson and Luke Watson were handed lengthy prison sentences after a court heard how they broke into homes in the dead of night in order to steal keys to high powered vehicles.

“Behind every one of those crimes are victims who have suffered the indignity of having their family homes invaded.”

Tony Gardner

Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, told the men: “Burglary is a plague on people’s lives. The offences that you two committed have an impact of the whole community.

“This is one of those cases where your records, combined with your unwillingness to rehabilitate yourselves, leads me to depart radically from the sentencing guidelines.”

Nicoleta Alistari, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court how the pair targeted a total of 18 homes in Leeds, two in Wakefield and one in Pontefact over a six week period in July and August last year.

Cars were stolen and then fitted with false number plates. Some of the vehicles were then used to commit further crimes.

A baby was present during one raid at a family home.

CCTV footage from two of the offences showed Watson, 25, snapping the door lock while Swanson, also aged 25, kept lookout.

The total value of property stolen in the burglaries was £297,015.

Miss Alistari said: “It was a campaign of burglary.”

At the time of the offices, Swanson was on police bail for taking cannabis and a class C drug in to an inmate at HMP Wealstun. Watson had recently been released from prison on licence.

Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary. Sawnson was jailed for seven years, seven months, and Watson for six years.

Kate Bisset, for Swanson, said her client was ashamed of what he had done and was sorry for letting his family down. Miss Bisset said Swanson wanted to start a career in the construction industry when released from prison.

Adam Birkby, for Watson, said his client had thrown away his chance of being a professional footballer and was also full of remorse for his offending.

After the case, Det Insp Steve Greenbank, who led the investigation, said: “Swanson and Watson are prolific offenders who were responsible for a large number of burglaries over a relatively short period of time.

“Behind every one of those crimes are victims who have suffered the indignity of having their family homes invaded - the majority while they slept at night – as well as the financial loss and inconvenience of having their cars and other valuables stolen.

“We hope it will provide some reassurance to the victims and to the wider community to know this pair have now had to face the consequences of their actions and will be spending a significant amount of time in prison.

“Burglary is a crime that has a serious impact on victims and on our communities and we will continue to do all we can to keep bringing offenders like these to justice.”