Cheltenham criminals lose appeal

8 July 2010, 15:52 | Updated: 8 July 2010, 16:08

Two men convicted of targeting vulnerable, elderly people in Cheltenham, have failed in a bid to have their sentences overturned by the Court of Appeal.

James Paul Johnson, 30, of Princess Elizabeth Way, Cheltenham, and Andrew Paul Spence, 46, of Monkscroft, were convicted of distraction burglary offences at Gloucester Crown Court in March this year.

Johnson was sentenced to seven years imprisonment concurrently for three counts of distraction burglary and two years consecutive for one count of theft from a person. Spence was sentenced to three and a half years for one count of distraction burglary.

Cheltenham criminal!His Honour Judge Picton said at the time that the pair’s actions were “chillingly cold, calculated, cowardly and vile”, adding that they had clearly preyed on the elderly and vulnerable because they were institutionally criminal and were able to exploit this section of the community without any morals or conscience.  

Johnson’s sentence is the largest of its kind handed down by a trial judge for distraction burglaries committed in Gloucestershire.

On Wednesday both Johnson and Spence appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice, where the three appellant judges dismissed Johnsons’ claim that his sentence was too high and refused Spence’s application to appeal against his original sentence. They described the offences as despicable acts.

Detective Inspector Barry Sweeny, of the Cheltenham Priority Policing Team, said he was delighted:

“Our officers put a considerable amount of effort into apprehending Johnson and Spence, supporting the victims in these terrible cases and putting together a case, with the CPS, which secured convictions at court,” DI Sweeny said.

“This was a heinous series of crimes where two criminal minded bullies preyed on the elderly and frail.  

“Johnson has never apologised or shown any remorse. Spence is most likely to have gone along with Johnson due to peer pressure, but notwithstanding that, these were appalling crimes perpetrated against vulnerable members of our community.

“We are glad the pair have failed to have their sentences reduced and hope the severe sentences they are now serving, which are thoroughly deserved in the circumstances, serve as a warning to anyone else who may be considering committing such crimes within our county.”