AN eighth man has been sentenced in connection with a burglary conspiracy across Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset and more, which saw almost £500,000-worth of goods stolen and damage caused.
Darren Lee Wilkinson appeared before Southampton Magistrates Court on Tuesday (September 26) for his part in a conspiracy to commit burglary across six counties between October and December 2020.
The 36-year-old was found guilty at Southampton Crown Court on May 9 after a five-day trial and on Tuesday was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison.
The court heard the group would travel in convoy – in a variety of vehicles – often utilising private hire vehicles or stolen vehicles on cloned plates to drive to various locations within Hampshire and in other nearby counties.
The large-scale conspiracy – which targeted businesses with high-value stock such as supermarkets, bicycle stores, mobile phone stores and clothing stores.
As part of the investigation, a total of 16 burglaries were uncovered that had been committed in Hampshire, three in Surrey, three in Dorset, two in Avon & Somerset, one in Sussex and one in Wiltshire.
The overall value of goods stolen and loss to businesses in terms of damage caused totalled nearly £420,000, the court was told.
Further enquires by investigators also recovered a number of stolen vehicles which were used as part of the burglary conspiracy to commit the offences.
Four men were sentenced for their part in the conspiracy at the same court in August, while three others had previously been sentenced for their part in the conspiracy on June 27.
Wilkinson was also handed a 12-month jail sentence, to run consecutively, for a series of offences which saw him take stolen vehicles to a scrap yard to be crushed.
He was found guilty of the following offences at Southampton Crown Court in May:
• Three counts of handling stolen goods, namely motor vehicles, between July 2019 and April 2020.
• Fraud by false representation between July and September 2019. Wilkinson dishonestly made a false representation to a member of staff at a scrap yard in Southampton, claiming he had lawful authority to request the scrappage of vehicles he had delivered to the yard.
• Fraud by false representation between August 2019 and July 2020, whereby Wilkinson dishonestly made a false representation to a member of staff at a scrap yard in Southampton, claiming he had lawful authority to request the scrappage of vehicles he had delivered to the yard.
Wilkinson was also sentenced to a total of nine months in prison, also to run consecutively to the burglary sentencing, in connection with an aggravated vehicle taking and disqualified driving offence in March 2022.
He was stopped on Wide Lane, Eastleigh, in a stolen Mercedes A-Class after failing to stop for officers and driving dangerously to avoid them.
Altogether his sentence was a total of five years and six months.
Detective Constable Paul Beasley, who led the investigation, said: “This further ruling has bought justice to residents and business owners in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and also a number of neighbouring counties.
“We conducted a fully-through and robust investigation – and today’s result is down to the sheer dedication of my officers, but also the efforts of our investigative counterparts at Surrey Police, Dorset Police, Avon & Somerset Police, Sussex Police and Wiltshire Police.
“This is a great example of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary’s priority to drive a focus on excellent local policing and ensuring that victims are put first and prioritised throughout our investigations.”