Sheep pyjama-wearing armed robber who was scared off by daughter of British Bulldog breeder one of four gang members convicted
A terror gang scared off by the daughter of British Bulldog breeders near Boston were caught after police seized a mobile phone showing one of them wearing the same sheep pyjamas identified on CCTV.
Four members of the gang, armed with knives and an imitation gun, had raided the isolated home of two dog breeders.
The attack was on the rural home in Sealaville, where Paul and Hayley Seal breed British Bulldogs worth up to £2,000 each, as show dogs.
Two defendants had already pleaded guilty to their part in the attack. Now, two more members of the gang have now been convicted.
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The court was told during the trial that during the raid on the Seal’s dog-breeding headquarters, a gun was aimed at the Seal’s daughter, Toni, and the trigger was pulled though there was no discharge.
After that, Toni and her boyfriend, Michael Doherty, who was in the house with her looking after the dogs while Mr and Mrs Seal were out, drove the gang out of the house.
The raid on the home of the Seals was one of several carried out by the gang. The other raids were all in Kent and Sussex, from where the defendants originate.
Thomas Balderston, 23, of Ernest Road, Christopher Aldred, 22, of Mayford Road, and Daniel Jarrett, 23, of Maida Road, all Chatham, Kent, denied conspiracy to rob and conspiracy to carry an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery.
Balderston and Aldred were convicted but the jury failed to reach a verdict in respect of Jarrett.
Christopher Heath, 30, and Terry Sullivan, 26, both of Ernest Road, Chatham, admitted the charges.
Kent Police said the gang had created a Blackberry Messenger group named ‘armed robbers’ and had taken photographs of themselves one of which showed them posing with a handgun.
When detectives swooped on the home of one of the gang, Terry Sullivan, they seized a number of items including mobile phones.
After examining one of Sullivan’s mobile phones officers found a number of images of him posing in the same pyjamas worn by a suspect in one of the robberies. The police say those images of bright blue pyjama bottoms covered with pictures of cartoon sheep proved a vital clue in the case.
Detective Sergeant Andy Nicol of Kent Police said: “The crimes carried out by these four men were violent and often terrified the victims.
“Despite showing a level of forensic awareness some of the men became sloppy, taking ‘selfies’ on their mobile phones. Whether this was narcissistic or not, it became their downfall and before long there was a wealth of unquestionable evidence stacking up against them.”
The court was told that the idea for the Lincolnshire raid came from Balderston, who owned a Bulldog. He believed there would be a large amount of cash in the house.
Prosecuting, Martin Yale alleged that Balderson, along with Sullivan, Heath and Aldred, drove there on May 24 last year and stayed overnight because it was too dark.
“They decided to try and create a distraction by pretending to be a postman or something and then rushing the house,” said the prosecutor.
He said that in the morning, they saw there were security cameras, and returned to Kent.
However, he said that Balderston carried out internet searches for “Sealaville Show Bulldogs” and the gang returned to the house on June 5.
This time two cars went and also included Jarrett. Heath had a text conversation with his son during the journey about getting a Bulldog claimed the prosecutor.
Mr Yale said that when the gang arrived the Seals’ daughter Toni was at the house with her boyfriend Michael Doherty looking after puppies while her parents were out.
He claimed that shortly before 5pm, Jarrett went to the house and asked for some water, saying that his car had broken down. While the bottle was being filled though the others rushed in.
The jury was told that Miss Seal shouted at the gang who were armed with knives and a gun and wearing balaclavas : “Get out of my house.”
“Toni Seal was pushing them away, telling them to get out of her house,” said Mr Yale. “The men were telling them to get down, waving the knives around.
“The man with the gun pointed it at Toni Seal and pulled the trigger, but nothing was discharged. She continued to try to push them back.
“Mr Doherty went and got a chair and ran at the men with it in front of him. By the time he did this, the men were already retreating through the patio door. They escaped empty-handed.”
The jury could not reach a verdict on Jarrett and the prosecution has been given time to consider whether there should be a retrial.
Sentencing on the four has been adjourned at Maidstone Crown Court until the week beginning November 4.