A raid on a flat containing a stolen tortoise led police to stumble on a massive drugs haul.
Billy Metcalfe and Matthew Wiggett were caught in the premises with stolen property - including the pet tortoise - as well as almost £35,000 worth of cocaine, £5,000 of amphetamines and £16,000 worth of cannabis belonging to Metcalfe.
And while out on bail over the discoveries at a Wath flat he had been living in, Metcalfe took part in a series of terrifying targeted burglaries in the Swinton area in which he hit one of his victim’s in the head with an axe and used a chainsaw to break down doors.
Metcalfe, aged 33 and of Illsey Road, Barnsley, was jailed for 10 years at Sheffield Crown Court, with Wiggett, aged 32 and of no fixed address, given four years and eight months in prison.
On October 13, Wiggett ransacked a home on Doncaster Road in Barnburgh, making off with items including a diamond ring, a Gucci watch and £500 in cash.
CCTV showed him entering the property at 10.50am and leaving the house 13 minutes later.
On October 25, a house in the Doncaster area was burgled, with thieves making off with cash, bank cards, a Ford Mondeo and a tortoise.
The following day the Mondeo was spotted parked outside a flat in West Street in Wath where Metcalfe was living.
Prosecutor Zaiban Alam said police raided the flat the following day, finding both Metcalfe and Wiggett inside, along with the stolen property.
She said: “The tortoise was alive and well.
“The complainant was overjoyed her pet tortoise was recovered.”
A search of the house revealed thousands of pounds worth of drugs stored in the property.
While out on bail, in February Metcalfe was involved in a targeted burglary spree with other yet-to-be-identified criminals over a three-to-four day period in the Swinton area.
Miss Alam said Metcalfe went into the first victim’s home in Sanderson Way, Swinton, and hit him in the head with an axe before other men entered the property and started ransacking it, with one of the gang holding a knife to the victim’s throat.
She said: “His head injury was bleeding profusely all over the kitchen and was gushing was blood.
“He was thinking he was going to die and was screaming ‘Let me go, I need to go to hospital’.”
She said the extent of the injury appeared to ‘shock and frighten’ the man holding the knife, who started shouting upstairs ‘Billy, Billy, come on, hurry up’.
The men tried to start the victim’s car and break into his shed with a hammer, making off with £410 in cash and other items including jewellery, iPhones and watches.
They also took the complainant’s van from the town centre - which was found later that month with stolen numberplates on in Wath.
Metcalfe also targeted another house in Swinton, where the owner’s Jaguar and Ford Cougar was stolen after the car keys were stolen from inside the house.
The Ford has never been recovered but the Jaguar was found in Wath - with a scarf inside that had Metcalfe’s DNA on it.
Metcalfe was also part of a third burglary on Prince Street in Swinton in which he used a chainsaw to break down a door as part of a gang involving two other men and one woman.
Metcalfe then forced a passer-by to hand over their mobile phone and was heard by the witness to say ‘It’s Metcalfe, he had someone’s door off and he was coming through the door’.
The witness called the police later and managed to track down Metcalfe on Facebook - meaning he could provide a positive identification of him.
On the same day, Metcalfe was part of a group of four men seen breaking into a house while armed with a chainsaw and a knife before ransacking the property.Metcalfe was eventually arrested on March 9 in Huddersfield, where a baseball bat and a large kitchen knife were found in his car.
Amy Earnshaw, representing Metcalfe, said the burglaries had occurred when Metcalfe was under the influence of alcohol which he was using to ‘manage his emotions’ having found out his mother was terminally ill.
Recorder Ian Harris said Metcalfe had described the victims of his burglaries as ‘either drug dealers, millionaires or cowards’.
He told him: “While you accepted full responsibility for these offences, you made repeated references to your belief the victims of aggravated burglary had been involved in a threatening incident at the home of a friend.
“It was an attempt by you to minimise your actions and the consequences of your actions.”
He sentenced Metcalfe to 10 years in jail but with an extended term that means he must serve at least two-thirds of his term in custody, instead of the usual half.
He will not be eligible for automatic release at that stage and will be assessed by a Parole Board as to whether he is fit to be let out of jail.