Burglar Helps Return Stolen Items

7 January 2011, 09:09 | Updated: 7 January 2011, 09:12

A burglar who was jailed for 17 years over a violent £350,000 robbery has helped his victims get most of their property back.

Christopher Doughty from Holly Gardens in Southampton was locked up in 2009 for the raid on an elderly couple's home near Chichester.

Lots of antiques were taken - but the 49-year-old's helped police return them in exchange for his sentence being reduced by two years.

Mrs Sarah Williams, whose house was raided, said today; "We were so pleased to hear that this investigation has finally come to a successful conclusion. We were very impressed by the sheer hard work of the police team and the Crown Prosecution Service in this difficult five-year long enquiry."

Tom and Sarah Williams, aged in their late-60s, were at home when they were subjected to a brutal and cowardly attack by Christopher Doughty, and two other men. The house was stripped of family heirlooms and the Williams beaten and tied up.

The offenders then proceeded to empty the house of some £350,000 of antiques, making several trips to remove the property. The family car was also used and this was found burnt out in Hampshire.

A substantial amount of property was taken by the burglars to a handler of stolen goods in Brighton. The police became aware of this and were waiting for the criminals when they made one of their deliveries.

Doughty and one of the others were caught delivering almost £100,000 worth of stolen property. A substantial amount of additional property was recovered both from the handlers home address and various lock up garages he had access to across the south east.

The handler, Phillip Capewell, was found guilty at Hove Crown Court in February 2008 and was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for handling stolen goods and conspiracy to handle stolen goods with Doughty and Wolfgang Schmelz, the other burglar.

Doughty described himself at trial as being one of the leading handlers of stolen goods in the Southampton region.

Detective Constable Steve Edwards of Sussex Police Major Crime Branch, said: "Mrs Williams' comments were greatly appreciated by the investigating team."