Three jailed after burglary spree ends on St Albans golf course

PUBLISHED: 19:01 14 January 2011

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THREE men on a late-night burglary spree ended up on the seventh tee of Batchwood Golf Course, a court heard this week.

It was there that Mohshen Ali, 24, Sujad Uddin, also 24, and Lee Edwards, 31, all of Francis Avenue, St Albans, abandoned their stolen car in an attempt to flee from police who were chasing them. But they didn’t get far and as they ran off across the greens were soon in the rough when they were caught by officers.

Inside the car, police recovered most of the gang’s haul from their break-ins which in the main had targeted newsagents across south-west Herts.

At St Albans crown court Ali, Uddin and Edwards pleaded guilty to five offences of burglary and one offence of attempted burglary. The newsagents were in Harpenden, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.

In addition Uddin, who had been the driver that night and drove onto the golf course in an attempt to shake off police on the gang’s tail, also pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking.

His two co-defendants admitted an offence each of allowing themselves to be carried.

Ali appeared in custody and the court heard he was presently serving a four-year jail term for robbery imposed in November.

David Chrimes, prosecuting, told how it was late on the night of July 20 last year that the three hit on the idea of breaking into newsagent’s shops in the area.

He described it as a “burglary spree” across south-west Herts and said it had not been a sophisticated operation since in most cases they had forced entry into shops, breaking glass panels and triggering alarm systems.

In many cases CCTV systems had captured them as they set about taking cigarettes, scratch cards and cash.

At one burglary in Harpenden they made off with a TV set. Their haul that night was worth “a few thousand pounds,” said Mr Chrimes.

Judge John Plumstead was told the gang were using a stolen Subaru car that night and it was following their final attempted break-in at a shop Hemel Hempstead that police spotted the car in the Leverstock Green area of the town.

There then followed a chase back to St Albans. Uddin, who was behind the wheel of the stolen car, was driving at high speeds and on entering St Albans ended up in the area of Batchwood Golf Course. The prosecutor said he then drove across the golf course before coming to a stop on the seventh tee.

All three left the car and made off leaving most of their haul still inside the vehicle and were captured moments later.

Sohail Bashir for Ali said: “He realises he has brought a great deal of shame not only on himself but his family.”

For Uddin, Mr Bashir said: “He has no previous experience of custody and is extremely fearful of going to prison.”

David Wales for Edwards said: “He expresses deep remorse and shame for his involvement in these offences.”

Ali was jailed for 12 months and Uddin and Edwards were each jailed for 18 months.

Passing sentence Judge Plumstead told the gang: “These were burglaries of small shops which are an important and extremely useful asset to communities, typically run by families for a relatively modest living.”

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