Burglar jailed for seven and a half years after terrifying attack on couple

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A couple were attacked in their own home during a terrifying night time raid by a gang of masked burglars brandishing a hammer.

The frightened pair were threatened and violence was used while demands were made for cash, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

The female victim had CS gas sprayed in her face and the man was beaten and struck with a hammer.

When the gang of five men fled the property in Barnsley, they attacked a neighbour who tried to intervene, leaving him with a broken skull.

Michael Slater, prosecuting, said the burglary took place at a property on West Street, Goldthorpe, Barnsley, on November 26 2013.

He said the gang of five men, including Leon Smith, aged 25, drove to the property in a van.

“Their aim was to burgle the premises. They all had their faces covered to avoid identification,” he said.

Four of the men approached the house and were challenged by the householder who had spotted them on his CCTV system.

He demanded to know what was going on and was sworn at and told to leave the door open but fled and locked the door.

Mr Slater said three of the men, including Smith, climbed into the house through a kitchen window while one stood guard outside.

He said the men were only in the house for three minutes but during that time the householder and his partner were subjected to threats and violence.

“The female was sprayed in the face with CS gas, threatened with a hammer and made to sit in the corner of the living room.

“Threats were made to the male and he was punched and struck with the hammer.”

Mr Slater said Smith, of George Place, Rawmarsh, Rotherham, didn’t take part in the violence but stayed in the kitchen shouting.

The men fled with a broken air rifle, television and a mobile phone.

Mr Slater said as they left a neighbour who tried to intervene was attacked and left with a broken skull.

The men then fled, leaving behind the stolen property.

Smith was arrested three days later after a hat and gloves with his DNA on were found 60 metres from the scene.

A footprint found on the window of the property was linked to his shoes.

Smith admitted aggravated burglary.

Andrew Bailey, defending, said Smith remained in the kitchen throughout and had not taken part in any of the violence.

But he accepted he was part of the joint enterprise.

He said since the offence he was a ‘changed man’ and had ‘turned a corner’.

He had also become a stepfather to his partner’s children.

Judge Julian Goose QC jailed Smith for seven-and-a-half years as his partner wept in the public gallery.

He said he accepted he had not taken part in the violence inside the house, but told him: “The violence in the escape was part of the joint enterprise which you had entered into with your colleagues.”