A terrified Rugby couple were at home with their three children when burglars burst in and demanded money and cannabis, threatening to smash the mother’s jaw if it was not handed over.
And even when they realised they had the wrong address, the raiders searched the house and took other property.
When he was later arrested, classic car sales director Paul Hinds, pleaded not guilty to taking part in the burglary – but was convicted by a jury at Warwick Crown Court.
Hinds, aged 53, of Bridget Street, Rugby, who the court heard still denies being involved, was jailed for three years.
Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said that in February last year a couple were at their home in Pickard Close, Brownsover, during the evening with their three children, aged three, 10 and 13.
One of the youngsters was upstairs while the other two were in the living room with their parents when Hinds and other men burst in through the unlocked front door.
They immediately confronted the father, telling him they were there ‘for the money and the weed.’
When he responded by telling them there was nothing like that in the house, Hinds became aggressive and, indicating he had a weapon, although none was produced, threatened to smash the mother’s jaw.
But it then occurred to one of the intruders that they had actually got the wrong address.
And Judge Andrew Lockhart QC observed: “It’s clear they had, and it was communicated to this defendant who nevertheless persisted in the conduct.”
Mr Simpson said that as Hinds was confronting the couple, one of his accomplices went into the kitchen and took a Kindle and a mobile phone.
Another went upstairs and returned with a jewellery box, which he put down when the woman said it was her daughter’s – only for one of the others to take it as they left the shaken family’s home.
Mr Simpson added that although Hinds had a previous conviction for burglary, that had been many years ago when he was a youth.
Matthew Barnes, defending, said: “Given the fact of the conviction and Mr Hinds’ instructions, there is almost nothing I can say about the offence.
“This is a very, very strange and sad state of affairs for a man such as Paul Hinds to be sitting where he is today.
“He has been for many, many years a man of exemplary character. He has been a hard-working and successful man with a supportive family.
“He had scaled the jobs market and reached the point where he was, for about three weeks before his arrest, working as a sales director for a classic car and sports car company.
“The impact of the conviction has been devastating for him and many around him.”
Jailing Hinds, Judge Lockhart told him: “You decided with others to go to Pickard Close, and for whatever reason you targeted the house of that man and his family.
“You had decided that at that house there was cash and drugs; but it seems overwhelming that you had the wrong address.
“They had three children, one of them upstairs and the other two on the sofa with their parents.
“You were aggressive and threatened that you had something in your pocket when they told you there was nothing there, and you threatened to break her jaw.
“One of the others with you said you were at the wrong address, but you persisted.
“You have no relevant previous conviction for a very long time. You have lived a good life for the most part, and this offence, for you, was out of character.
“But it was a group offence, and it is an aggravating feature that the children were at home and that it was at night.”