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Burglar laughs as he is sentenced

Villagers living in fear following house-breaking spree

John Garvey

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886628

Court

A PROLIFIC burglar who has left villagers living in fear laughed as he was sentenced this week.

The 27-year-old was appearing for sentencing at Reading Crown Court.

He had told police he had been expecting a seven-year sentence because of his past record of breaking into other people's homes, a jury had heard during the trial.

A number of cars were also raided.

But in fact, Peter Alan Berry was sentenced to four years imprisonment – but will be out in two – for a series of house burglaries and car break-ins in Lambourn and Eastbury.

Berry, of The Mead, Great Shefford, had denied burgling Gordon and Mavis Rose of Long Hedge, Lambourn; jointly, with a teenage boy, burgling Poughley Cottage in Eastbury; stealing a Honda Civic belonging to Julia Nicholas and burgling The Orchard in Eastbury.

All the above offences were committed during a crime spree between April 25 and April 27 and involved valuables, plus hundreds of pounds in cash.

Berry was acquitted of stealing the car, but had already admitted possessing cocaine and committing a series of car break-ins in the area, the jury was told.

He also has previous convictions for burgling other homes in the area.

The boy – who can not be named for legal reasons – admitted the Poughley Cottage burglary and stealing the car.

At the sentencing hearing on Monday, prosecutor Miles Trigg read from statements made by some of Berry’s victims in which they said villagers in Lambourn and Eastbury were now living in fear.

Mavis Rose, who had woken to find Berry climbing through her bedroom window, said: “It was quite terrifying... I now have to have a night light on... I need to check all the doors and windows are locked.

“I don’t feel confident about walking into the village in the dark.

“This has changed my view on life. I hope the person realises the impact his actions have had on me.”

Another victim, Julia Nicholas, stated: “I keep thinking about it. It was disturbing to think they came into my property while I was asleep.

“I feel much less safe in my home. It has changed a lot of residents’ attitude to their homes and personal safety.”

Peter West, of The Orchard, wrote: “Our home was violated. My wife and I were asleep at the time. Our home had always been a safe sanctuary. 

“Our confidence has been shattered. My wife is extremely nervous as we prepare for the night.

“We dread to think what would have happened at night should we have encountered people as they were rifling through our things.

“How do we protect ourselves in future?

“Many of our neighbours have been similarly impacted by these people as they rampaged through our village.

“I hope they can appreciate the distress caused to the many people whose lives they have impacted." 

At this point a slouching Berry was reprimanded by a dock officer for trying to put his feet up on an adjacent seat.

Steve Molloy, for Berry, said his client had “a very real insight into the way his behaviour has impacted others” and added: “He is very ashamed.”

Judge Kirsty Real told Berry: “You have caused much anxiety by your offending. This was a crime spree.”

She sentenced him to four years imprisonment.

However, only two of these will actually be spent behind bars and the remainder on licence in the community.

As he was led away, Berry punched the air, smiled, and said: “Yes!”

Judge Real imposed an 18-month youth rehabilitation order on the boy.

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