Jailed in January - the criminals no longer walking Cornwall's streets

Jailed in January - the criminals no longer walking Cornwall's streets

It was a case of straight back to it at Truro Crown Court in January after a brief pause between Christmas and New Year.

At the court last month there were plenty of sentencing hearings and trials which Cornwall Live reporters were present to report on.

We've had a look back over the month to bring you the criminals given prison sentences by resident Judges Robert Linford and Simon Carr in January.

Thomas Kneebone

A judge has said that the video interview given by a preteen girl who was sexually assaulted by a 20-year-old man was "the most compelling" he has seen in 32 years.

Thomas Kneebone, from Wadebridge, went on trial at Truro Crown Court accused of three counts of sexual activity with a child under 13 and two charges of causing or inciting a girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

At the end of the two day trial he was convicted by a jury of all five offences, which happened last year.

Prosecuting barrister Philip Lee told the jury of nine men and three women that the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convinced by Kneebone to remove her clothes and let him massage her before he touched her private parts.

Mr Lee also explained how Kneebone persuaded the young girl to masturbate him.

Mr Lee said: “On her return home the victim’s mum noticed that she was crying in her bedroom and asked her what was wrong.

“At first she was reluctant but then she began to tell her about what Thomas Kneebone had done to her.

“The matter was reported to the police straight away and the victim told officers how he had done things she didn’t like and it happened on three occasions, beginning when he asked if she had ever had a massage before.”

Mr Lee added how Kneebone persuaded the girl to remove her clothing for the massages and touched her vagina saying “it’s fine, it’ll teach you for when you’re older” and “school doesn’t teach you these things”.

He is also said to have urged and then helped her to masturbate him before asking her to put his penis in her mouth, however she refused the final offer.

Sentencing Kneebone, Judge Simon Carr said the victim’s video interview with police was the most compelling he had seen in 32 years.

Judge Carr said: “You were convicted by a jury of significant sexual assaults of a young girl who clearly worshipped you.

“What you did you did for your own sexual gratification and she had no real idea of what was going on.

"These were very serious assaults. The touching of her vagina masquerading as a massage was bad enough but you then got her to masturbate you until you ejaculated and told her she couldn’t tell anyone.

“You have showed no remorse for what you have done and little or no empathy.”

Judge Carr sentenced Kneebone to four-and-a-half years in a young offenders’ institution and told him he must sign the sex offender register for life.

Dean Bartle

A would-be armed robber held up two local businesses at gun and knife point but still managed to leave empty handed.

Dean Bartle, 30, from Camborne, appeared at Truro Crown Court on Friday, January 5, via video link to be sentenced after previously pleading guilty to two charges of attempted robbery.

Prosecutor Nigel Wraith told the court how on Sunday, November 12, 2017, shortly before midday, Bartle entered Adelaide Stores at Tolvaddon.

Mr Wraith said: “The only member of staff in the store at the time was Mrs O’Neil and when she returned behind the till, the defendant approached and produced a bag, telling Mrs O’Neil to put the money in it.

“He was holding a knife and reached over the counter with it but Mrs O’Neil ran out the back of the store into the car park screaming for help. The defendant then ran off empty handed.”

Mr Wraith went on to describe how Bartle concealed his identity by pulling a hoody over his face but left behind the bag and knife, both of which were found with his DNA.

The second attempted robbery occurred eight hours later at Mr W's Eats & Treats store in Tuckingmill, around the corner from the defendant’s home.

A member of staff, Mr Tozer, described the defendant entering with some kind of assault rifle before approaching the till with his hoody drawn up shouting “give me the fucking till, I need the money”.

He aimed the gun at Mr Tozer’s stomach, who calmly turned and walked away out of the store.

CCTV showed Bartle unsuccessfully attempting to gain access to the till and steal a charity box before again fleeing, again with nothing.

Bartle also asked for an offence of theft to be taken into account for sentencing, relating to an incident on November 3 when he entered Four Lanes Stores and made off with two Poppy Appeal and Christmas lights fund charity boxes containing about £245.

Sitting as judge, Recorder Noel Casey admitted the offences were out of character and that Bartle pleaded guilty at the earliest given opportunity even though the case against him wasn’t particularly strong. He also conceded that he showed genuine remorse.

He did however state that the robberies had a serious effect on the victims, especially Mrs O’Neil who had to take medication and is still anxious and edgy whilst at work.

Bartle was sentenced to six years in prison.

Alexander Hughes and Jonathon Taylor

Two burglars who raided homes in towns and villages across west Cornwall - stealing everything from PlayStations to wedding rings - appeared in court to be sentenced.

Alexander Hughes, 27, from St Erth, and Jonathon Taylor, 29, from St Clare Street in Penzance, were both in the dock at Truro Crown Court after previously admitting a raft of charges.

Hughes pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary and one instance of handling stolen goods, whereas Taylor admitted three burglaries, one attempted burglary and going equipped for burglary.

Prosecutor Katie Churcher told the court how the pair accessed the homes during daylight hours in October 2017, when owners were out at work. They entered via insecure windows and doors, but one at least one occasion smashed a window to access a property.

The break-ins occurred in Mullion, St Keverne and Newlyn, among other locations.

Summarising the offences, Ms Churcher said that Hughes was caught handling stolen goods when he was found in possession of an Apple iMac computer.

On October 6, between 9am and 1pm, Taylor accessed a property and took jewellery, cash, documents, a GoPro, a drill, a laptop and a North Face jacket, although the drill and jacket were later recovered from Taylor’s Jaguar.

On October 10 both defendants entered a property in St Keverne through an insecure window and took a wedding ring and an engagement ring and a Bosch speaker.

In a victim impact statement the owner of the property said the incident had left her feeling uncomfortable in her own home and tainted what was meant to be a clean start.

Also on October 10 Hughes smashed a living room window in Mullion and stole £1,000 in cash, jewellery, a coin collection, six watches and an engagement ring described as “very sentimental”.

The victim also spoke of being left shocked, upset and traumatised as a result of the crime. Taylor’s Jaguar was spotted driving slowly around the village before later making off at speed.

Ten days later the pair entered another house through a ground floor window and stole an Xbox, before later in the month gaining access to an address in Newlyn during daylight hours and taking a PlayStation 4 and a jar of money. The money totalling around £500 belonged to a 19-year-old saving for a new car.

Hughes then stole another console and 15 games belonging to a 15-year-old after smashing through a backyard window.

Then, on October 31, Taylor was stopped by police with two Staffordshire bull terriers and found with a hammer, black woollen gloves and two multiools in a backpack, resulting in the going equipped for burglary and attempted burglary charges.

Ms Churcher added that Hughes had a minimal record with no previous burglaries recorded against him, whereas Taylor had 15 convictions for 20 offences and although none of them were burglaries, he recently completed a three-year sentence for drug-related offences.

Both men are said to have blamed each other at interview.

Sentencing the pair, Judge Simon Carr said: “You fall to be sentenced for a series of domestic burglaries in October 2017.

“The circumstances are that you both had an entrenched heroin addiction and committed burglaries to fund your habit.

“The series of burglaries targeted houses and it was clear what could be forced was forced and what couldn’t would instead be smashed in order to gain access.

"You stole anything you could find to resell and it’s difficult to imagine how low someone can sink to steal a wedding and engagement ring, which were of great sentimental value, but of little value to you.”

In light of his more serious record and the fact that he was on licence from prison when the offences were committed, Taylor was jailed for 30 months. Hughes was handed a two-year sentence.

Matthew Carroll and Rory Jeffrey

A pair of armed robbers who held up two convenience stores were handed double-figure sentences after a judge said he wanted to give a deterrent to anybody thinking of carrying out similar crimes.

Balaclava-clad Matthew Carroll, 31, and Rory Jeffery, 40, both from Camborne, pointed guns at two terrified shop assistants before making off with the contents of the tills at Four Lanes Post Office and Stithians Spar shop on the afternoon of November 26 last year.

The two appeared at Truro Crown Court for sentence after previously admitting two counts of robbery and two possessing imitation firearms charges.

Prosecuting barrister Philip Lee told the court how one of the men entered Four Lanes Post Office whilst the other stood guard outside.

The male pointed what was believed to be a revolver or pistol at employee Tina Chadwick and ordered her to help empty the till, insisting he wasn’t going to hurt her.

Mr Lee described how Ms Chadwick was “shocked, afraid and shaking” and fearing for her life when she saw the gun.

The men fled with £600 in cash, which they stuffed into an orange bag, also fleeing with £25 worth of spirits.

Carroll and Jeffery then left the scene before shortly after arriving at Stithians Spar.

Mr Lee added: “Jack Reeves was working behind the till at about 2.30pm and saw a man in a balaclava approaching the till pointing a gun at him.

“He demanded all the money from the till and put an orange bag on the counter which was filled with money from the till drawer.

“They made off with a total of £550 in cash.”

A mother and her 10-year-old child were also present at the time of the robbery.

Later that afternoon police found Jeffery’s burnt-out car in the village and the orange bag with Carroll’s blood and discarded clothing inside.

Dean Bartle
Dean Bartle

As a result of the first robbery Ms Chadwick has suffered from nightmares, anxiety and sleepless nights and had to take weeks off work.

The Stithians robbery rocked the village and shocked customers and staff alike, according to the store manager.

Both defendants have a string of previous convictions to their name, but for lesser offences.

Sentencing Carroll and Jeffery, Judge Robert Linford said that the offences “cried out” for a deterrent sentence to be passed.

He said: “At 2.10pm on November 26 Tina Chadwick was at work at Four Lanes Post Office when you two went to the store both wearing balaclavas, one of you carrying what looked like a real handgun.

“The gun was pointed directly at her and it was demanded that she open the till. At first Ms Chadwick thought it was some kind of prank.

“Terrified and shaking she opened the drawer and handed the money over. You placed it in a bag, pausing only to grab alcohol as you left the shop.

“You both then drove to Stithians Spar shop, where Jack Reeves was working.

"At about 2.20pm one of you pointed the gun at the shopkeeper. Again, you put the money from the till in the bag and fled before a car belonging to Mr Jeffrey was found burnt-out nearby.

“Each of you have bad records, but both have been out of trouble for four years and offences committed in the past are nothing in the league of this.”

Judge Linford then described how drugs had blighted the lives of both men and, as is always the case, family members are the ones who suffer during a sentence of imprisonment.

He said that a deterrent sentence must be passed, jailing both men for 10 years and eight months.

Kieran Leverett (middle left in below photo)

A former student of the year chef at Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurant has been sentenced after falling back into a life of crime.

Kieran Leverett, 33, of no fixed abode, appeared at Truro Crown Court to be sentenced via video link from Exeter Prison.

Leverett, who previously admitted 17 thefts from a shop charges and one burglary, at one point had been a shining light in the catering industry, scooping prestigious awards for his efforts at the Watergate Bay eatery that provides opportunities and training for disadvantaged youngsters.

Prosecuting barrister Francesca Whebell, told the court how Leverett, who has links to Penzance and Launceston, exclusively targeted Co-Op stores stealing a variety of products.

Ms Whebell said: “The most serious charge related to a burglary on October 28 at the Wherrytown Co-Op store in Penzance.

“The team leader left at 21:30 on the 27th with the building locked and secured. The following morning it was clear there had been a break-in and when CCTV was reviewed the defendant could be seen smashing a door and stealing bottles of alcohol to the value of £200.

“The damage to the door was estimated at £2,000. Officers attended and when scenes of crime officers began their investigation they seized blood stained glass that linked to the defendant.”

Ms Whebell went on to give details of a catalogue of other thefts whereby Leverett entered Co-Op stores mainly in Penzance (Wherrytown and Market Jew Street stores) and Launceston and left with items stuffed into his jacket.

Stock stolen included meat and his thefts often totalled more than £100.

Sentencing Leverett, Judge Simon Carr said: “You fall to be sentenced for a series of thefts where largely, for whatever reason, you targeted Co-Op stores.

“Having heard of the opportunity you were given at 15 it is particularly sad that you didn’t fully take this opportunity.

“At 33 you have been before the courts 54 times and I accept your offending has been to feed your habit but also includes breaches of orders.”

Leverett was jailed for nine months.

Seth Lee

A grandfather of 40 children who has a cannabis and alcohol addiction sped through a busy nightclub car park with his lights off in an effort to flee from the police, a court heard.

Seth Lee, 54, from Redruth, appeared at Truro Crown Court to be sentenced after previously pleading guilty to a string of offences relating to two police chases in July and November of last year.

Lee admitted to a variety of counts including speeding, obstructing a constable in execution of his/her duty, failure to stop, driving over the alcohol limit, dangerous driving, possession of a Class B drug and two driving whilst disqualified and driving with no insurance charges.

Prosecutor Francesca Whebell told the court how, in the early hours of July 8, a PC Mason was on patrol between junction 20 and 21 on the M5 when he was passed by an Astra van which showed up on his computer as having no insurance or MoT.

Ms Whebell said: “PC Mason caught up with the driver but when he saw the blue lights he carried on at speed travelling in excess of 100 miles per hour, officers’ patrols showing he even reached speeds of 120.

“The Astra left the M5, going on to the M49 before stopping on the hard shoulder. When arrested he initially gave incorrect details but was later found to be a disqualified driver. Mr Lee told the police he didn’t stop as he had previously been beaten up by police officers.”

Ms Whebell then went onto describe the second incident, on November 23.

She added: “Two officers were on patrol in Redruth and saw a Volkswagen Passat illegally turning from Chapel Street onto West End. Forty metres ahead they saw the Passat turn backwards and drive towards the police.

“The Passat then went towards the Penventon Park Hotel, through its car park to the car park at Zone nightclub. The club was open with around 20 people by the front door when the vehicle accelerated with no lights on through the car park to the lower entrance.

“As the car headed towards the lower entrance, three pedestrians were walking towards the nightclub and had to jump out the way to avoid being struck. Officers called for assistance and eventually stopped the vehicle and removed the keys. The vehicle smelt strongly of cannabis and Mr Lee handed over a small amount of the drug in his top pocket.”

The court heard how Lee has an extensive criminal record and had served time in prison.

Sentencing Lee, Judge Simon Carr described him as “a menace” and said that the fact nobody was killed or injured as he sped through Zone car park with no lights on was “pure luck” and he was “indifferent” as to whether anybody was hurt.

Lee was jailed for 16 months and banned from driving for three years and eight months. He’ll have to sit an extended test following the completion of the ban.

Peter Williams

A burglar raided the home of a pensioner and answered the victim’s mobile phone to his son before laughing and hanging up, a court heard.

Peter Williams, 37, from Par near St Austell, appeared at Truro Crown Court to be sentenced after previously admitting one count of burglary.

Prosecuting barrister Julia Cox told Judge Simon Carr how Williams entered a property at Cliff Road in Par on July 25 last year and stole items including a TV, DVD player, a phone, a knife and a number of a number of clip-on earrings.

Ms Cox described how the property was inhabited by a 72-year-old who left his home after checking it was secure.

She said: “When he returned he realised that a recycling bag had been displaced. He then went into the front room and realised that the TV, DVD player and other items had been stolen. Stolen belongings were valued at around £800 and it was clear that a search of the property had been carried out with drawers left open.”

It is believed Williams accessed the property through a first-floor bedroom window and, following the burglary, the victim’s son rang the missing mobile phone which was answered by Williams who then laughed and ended the call.

He was later seen by a suspicious local businessman carrying a television down the road.

Ms Cox added that the defendant had a significant criminal record including a total of six dwelling burglaries.

A victim personal statement read to the court said how the man whose home Williams raided was left paranoid and scared it would happen again.

Due to the fact this was Williams’ third domestic burglary (the other two having already been dealt with), he fell foul of Section 101 of the Powers of the Criminal Courts Act 2000 meaning he must receive a sentence of at least three years.

Judge Simon Carr proceeded to give Williams a three-year sentence, also taking into account a shoplifting offence and a breach of a conditional discharge.

Benjamin Gough

A father of three young boys who stole a gun and seconds later pointed it in someone’s face in a bid to secure a lift home appeared in court to be sentenced.

Benjamin Gough, 32, of Camborne, had been on trial at Truro Crown Court accused of burglary and the possession an imitation firearm.

Gough was unanimously convicted of both crimes and he returned to the dock this afternoon to learn his fate.

The court previously heard how Gough forced his way into the bedsit of a room he suspected belonged to someone who was dealing drugs to his friends.

Once inside, Gough, who was said to be in a drink-induced haze, ransacked the property, turning out drawers until he found a softball gun.

He then fled the premises and approached a driver in the car park outside requesting a lift home.

When the driver refused Gough brandished the gun and pointed at the driver demanding he changed his mind.

Gough was later arrested.

Sentencing Gough, Judge Simon Carr, said: “You have been convicted of two serious offences and although the background of this case is not entirely clear, the effects are.

“For whatever reason you went to a bedsit type accommodation for those with addiction problems and a degree of vulnerability.

“You went there because a friend said there was someone there selling drugs. You got drunk first and anyone watching the CCTV footage can see how out of control you were.

“You kicked doors, ripped a bar off the wall and forced your way into the room of an entirely innocent person. You then ransacked the room and found an imitation firearm. You could not resist taking what you found.

“If that was not bad enough you left the premises and went to a nearby car park. You went up to a man you did not know and demanded a lift home. When he refused you pointed the gun at him which must have been terrifying for him.”

Judge Carr added that Gough continued to shout abuse at the man, but he acted “largely out of drunken stupidity”.

Judge Carr sentenced Gough to 12 months in prison of which he must serve half.

Catherine Barnes

A burglar brazenly strolled into an occupied home and stole cash before looking the home owner in the eye and running out.

Long-term drug user Catherine Barnes, 37, formerly of Perranporth and Camborne, appeared at Truro Crown Court to be sentenced after admitting one charge or burglary along with two thefts.

Prosecuting barrister Gareth Evans told the court how in Newquay on July 12, 2017, her victim was in the lounge socialising with his friends when Barnes happened to walk past.

Barnes entered the ground floor room through a partially opened window and, when the man heard a noise and went to inspect the room, she stepped out and left via the front door.

Mr Evans said: “When the man went and checked in the wardrobe he found that £100 was missing. Police were called and enquiries were made. Fortunately CCTV covered a part of the building and showed the defendant walking past the house before turning and going back.

“She then lifted the partially opened window and climbed in before leaving by the front door. Two minutes later she returned and climbed in again before leaving, followed by the victim.

“Fingerprints were found at the point of entry an Ms Barnes was arrested. She told police she took the money to buy drugs.”

Mr Evans also told the court how on June 27 of last year Barnes went into Goonhavern Stores and lied to a cashier about being due a refund despite not having a receipt. She eventually left with alcohol worth £18.

On the evening of September 26 at Tesco in Redruth, Barnes was caught on CCTV selecting a number of items before proceeding to stuff some of them into a shoulder bag and paying for the others prior to leaving the store. She was caught on CCTV concealing some of the items and told police: “I went in and saw some things I couldn’t afford.”

Judge Carr said: “You broke into a property and stole cash and the aggravating feature is that people were present on the premises at the time.

“I accept you have a long and entrenched battle with heroin but you have been before the courts on a number of occasions including for two other domestic burglaries in 2011 and 2014 and on each occasion the court took the exceptional course of a suspended sentence to try an assist you.

“You failed to comply with each suspended sentence and since then other crimes have been committed.

“I acknowledge you have tried to address the demons that have bothered you for so long but the sad feature is that drug addiction is nearly always the reason behind domestic burglaries.”

Judge Carr then proceeded to sentence Barnes to 30 months in prison, of which she must serve half.