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By Chris Willmott Thursday 18 October 2012 Updated: 26/10 09:54
When the police cornered three men who had broken into a large detached Balsall Common house, one of them climbed onto the roof and smashed his mobile phones and chewed the sim cards.
After they were arrested officers checked their high-powered get-away car, which had been stolen during a burglary in Lapworth, and found property from other Warwickshire break-ins.
Christian Shan (31) of Saxondale Avenue, Sheldon, and Kevin Weldon (33) of Barrows Lane, Sheldon, both pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the Balsall Common burglary.
But they denied conspiracy to commit burglary, three charges of robbery, one of attempted robbery, two of possessing an imitation firearm at the time of committing offences, and Shan denied conspiring to steal cars, which Weldon admitted.
Prosecutor Malcolm Morse said: “This case concerns a group of men who have agreed to commit those three different kinds of crime – high quality cars, burglaries in substantial detached homes around the Warwickshire area, and robbery.
“At least one of the burglaries borders on being a robbery because there was someone at home and the burglars threatened to shoot them.”
Mr Morse said that on September 22 last year Shan, Weldon and Darren Hall travelled in an Audi RS4 estate, which had been stolen in a burglary in Lapworth, to Balsall Common.
They reversed onto the drive of a large detached house in Alder Lane and parked on the lawn before smashing their way in while owner Gurjit Aujla was collecting his son from school.
Mr Aujla got back a few minutes later, and the police were already there, having had the burglars under surveillance.
When the police made their presence known the burglars climbed out onto a balcony, from where Shan and Hall (29) of Coventry Road, Sheldon, who has admitted taking part in that one offence, climbed down and were arrested.
But Weldon climbed onto the roof where he stayed ‘for a few hours,’ during which he took his two mobile phones apart and threw the pieces to the ground while chewing the sim cards so messages on them could not be checked.
Mr Morse said the Audi get-away car had been taken during a burglary at a house which was in grounds behind secure gates in Packwood Lane, Lapworth, on July 11.
A CCTV recording showed the intruders had smashed their way in through the front door and taken the key to the Audi, which had a personalised number plate.
When the police recovered the car in Balsall Common they found items from other burglaries at ‘good quality’ houses in Lowsonford, Norton Lindsay and Knowle inside.
Other houses said to have been burgled as part of the conspiracy, which also involved other people, were in Lapworth, Claverdon and Cheswick Green between July 21 and September 22.
Mr Morse commented: “Anybody would be justified in thinking that if you take that period of time and the area involved, we are looking at the same team of burglars concentrating on the same kind of house.”
He told the jury the conspiracy to steal cars involved the theft of BMWs, mainly from long-stay car parks at Birmingham International and East Midlands airports.
Nine of the 15 cars stolen between early June and just before Shan and Weldon were arrested were from Birmingham airport, two from Birmingham International station, three from east Midlands and one from outside the owner’s home.
During that period an Audi TT registered to Shan’s father or the stolen Audi was driven onto the car park where they would identify a BMW to steal.
The BMW would be driven off the car park ‘tailgating’ one of the Audis to get through the barrier with it – and on one occasion Weldon was identified.
Shan claimed he was there looking for his girlfriend’s car because he believed she was having an affair.
Of the robbery charges, Mr Morse said they all took place on the same day – August 9 last year.
The first was at the Total petrol station in Stratford Road, Shirley, when four masked raiders burst into the shop at 9.15pm armed with a sledgehammer and a large spanner, with which one member of staff was hit as they demanded the safe be opened before escaping with just over £6,000.
Despite that success, they next targeted the William Hill bookmakers in Highfield Road, Hall Green, which was closed when they smashed their way in at shortly before 10pm.
The only person there was a female cleaner who was threatened by the gang who told her they had a gun and ordered her to open the safe, and then began smashing the place up when she told them that, as the cleaner, she did not have a safe key.
The four, alleged to have included both Shan and Weldon, then struck at the nearby Cole Valley News shop as manager Festus Williams was locking up at 10pm.
Armed with the sledgehammer and a handgun, they ordered him to lie on the floor, but he fled to a rear part of the premises and locked the door.
From there he could hear them ‘smashing and banging around’ as they forced open the till, from which they got just £60, before making off in an Audi RS4, said Mr Morse.
Then shortly afterwards the same car pulled onto the forecourt of the Total filling station on the Coventry Road at Bickenhill where manager Hussein Ahmed was threatened with the gun and forced to open the safe.
The gang escaped with just under £4,500 in cash and a quantity of cigarettes. The trial continues.
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