Two men who carried out a spate of burglaries at upmarket hotels, including three near Rugby, have been jailed after a judge heard they had been committing similar offences for the past ten years.
Finbar Brewer and Jason Richards had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to conspiring to commit burglaries and conspiracy to commit frauds.
The court heard they had struck at hotels including Dunchurch Park, Brandon Hall and Coombe Abbey, and committed frauds using bank cards taken in the raids. They were also responsible for burglaries at premises in Gloucestershire, the West Midlands, Surrey, Cumbria, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.
Brewer, 41, of Hollyfast Road, Coundon, Coventry, was jailed for a total of five years, and Richards, 43, of William Malcolm House, Attoxhall Road, Coventry, for four years and three months.
Prosecutor Alex Warren said that within the conspiracy Richards had accepted 22 burglaries of hotel rooms, two attempted burglaries and two frauds, with 15 of the offences being after he had been arrested and granted bail.
“The total sum of money lost through his involvement is approximately £20,000 which included the direct proceeds of the burglaries and the frauds, and frauds committed by others using cards he had taken.”
Brewer was involved in ten burglaries, one attempted burglary and four bank card frauds, with all but one offence being while he was on bail, and involving a total of around £26,000.
The conspiracies involved a series of burglaries of hotel rooms over a period of about a year from November 2012 until their final arrest in early December last year.
Rooms were entered using stolen master keys and cash, bank cards and documents such as driving licences were taken.
The owners were then contacted by someone pretending to be from their bank and trying to trick them into revealing their pin numbers, which several of the victims did.
The cards and the pin numbers were then used to obtain thousands of pounds in cash from banks and other outlets.
Among the local hotels where the two men struck were the Dunchurch Park Hotel, the Brandon Hall Hotel and the Coombe Abbey Hotel in Warwickshire, and the Coventry Hill Hotel in Coventry.
In September last year a woman was in her room at the Dunchurch Park Hotel, with the door locked and the lights off, at around 8pm when the door opened and a man walked in.
When he saw her, he claimed he was just checking whether the room was vacant, and left.
Brewer and Richards were arrested shortly afterwards when the police stopped a VW Golf driven by Richards, and in the car officers found master keys to the hotel and two other hotels.
Although Brewer was already on bail for using a bank card taken in a burglary at the Four Pillars Hotel in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, both men were granted bail.
The following month the two defendants were involved in burgling the rooms of two women who were staying at the Brandon Hall Hotel at Brandon, near Rugby, for a wedding.
From one woman’s room they stole £240 in cash, including £200 that was in a wedding card for the bride and groom, and from the other room they stole £720 in cash.
Also in October Richards was involved in the burglary of another room at the hotel, and in November they carried out a further two burglaries at the Brandon Hall Hotel.
Brewer then used a bank card from one of those rooms to withdraw a total of £3,450 in cash and to buy around £360 worth of goods at shops in Birmingham city centre.
The two men carried out similar burglaries of two rooms at the Coombe Abbey Hotel, stealing £270 in cash from one and a bank card from the other with which Brewer withdrew £1,640.
Towards the end of November Richards burgled a room at the Coventry Hill Hotel in Coventry, but got only £3 in change, and two days later both men returned and stole a tablet computer which was found when they were arrested on December 2 in a hire car.
Mr Warren, who pointed out that the Court of Appeal has said that hotel room burglaries should be considered ‘akin to dwelling house burglary,’ added that both men had a large number of previous convictions for similar burglaries and frauds.
Robert Hodgkins, for Brewer, said he had only been involved over a period of three-and-a-half months.
He argued that Brewer ‘would derive much greater benefit and help to quit offending were he to have the assistance of the probation service’ under a suspended sentence than being jailed.
But Jonathan House, for Richards, conceded: “This was organised criminal conduct and they deserve, and will receive, immediate sentences of imprisonment.”
Jailing the two men, Recorder Lance Ashworth QC told them: “The two of you have over a significant period been involved in two conspiracies, the first being a conspiracy to burgle hotel rooms and the second to fraudulently use credit and bank cards.
“It is clear these offences caused huge upset to people who had gone to top-end posh hotels.
“It is aggravated by the fact that you have been committing these sorts of offences for getting on for a decade and because the offences were, for the most part, committed while on bail.”
But reducing Richards’s sentence, he told him: “I am impressed with the efforts you’ve made while in custody.”