South Yorkshire family left distressed after burglars stole priceless engagement rings in daylight raid
A 22-year-old man has been put behind bars for over two years for his part in a South Yorkshire burglary, during which members of his group ransacked a family's home and stole priceless engagement rings.
Peter James and two unnamed accomplices struck at a house in Wath Road, Wath-upon-Dearne at 10.55am on January 4 this year - exactly two minutes after people working at the property had left.
Sheffield Crown Court heard how CCTV captured James knocking at the door of then empty property.
After no-one answered, members of the group made their way to the back door and gained entry to the property by forcibly breaking snap locks on the door.
Police called the male occupant of the property later that day to inform him that he had been burgled, and he returned home to find the property had been 'ransacked,' explained Louise Gallagher, prosecuting.
She added: "Initially, he did not think anything had been stolen, but his wife later discovered that two items had been stolen to an estimated value of Â£1,800."
The group of thieves had stolen the woman's engagement ring, as well an engagement ring passed down to their daughter from her late grandmother.
In a victim impact statement read out in court, the couple's daughter said she was especially 'distressed' by the loss of her grandmother's engagement ring because of the close bond they shared.
CCTV also showed James spitting on the driveway, which subsequently led to his arrest after South Yorkshire Police found traces of James' DNA in saliva recovered at the scene.
James, of Moorland Avenue, Morley, Leeds pleaded guilty to a charge of dwelling house burglary at an earlier hearing.
Defending, James Bourne-Acton, told the court that James' only involvement in the burglary was knocking on the door and walking away.
This line of mitigation was rejected by Judge Robert Moore, who said James was being sentenced on the basis of joint enterprise as Mr Bourne-Acton was 'well aware'.
Mr Bourne-Acton added that should James be given an immediate custodial sentence it would have a significant impact on his family because he is the only member that drives, and is responsible for taking his diabetic five-year-old sister to hospital appointments.
Judge Moore jailed James for 29 months.
"I regard the burglary as so serious that only a sentence of immediate custody can be justified," said Judge Moore.
* South Yorkshire Police have been asked to provide a custody image of James