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violent crim Irish gang member who stole almost €600k of jewellery jailed after years on the run

During one of the raids crying children locked themselves in the bathroom as the gang ransacked their home

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Michael Casey (21) was just 16 when he began taking part in raids

Michael Casey (21) was just 16 when he began taking part in raids

Michael Casey (21) was just 16 when he began taking part in raids

A LIMERICK criminal who was part of an Irish crime gang who took almost €600k worth of jewellery in home raids across the UK was caught after spending two years on the run, a court has heard.

Michael Lee Timothy Casey (21) from Limerick but with an address Mynells Gorse Travellers site, Golf Course Lane, Leicester, was involved in terrifying home invasions including one where an elderly victim had jewellery violently ripped from her body as well as string of other crimes committed across Wales and England.

He was part of an organised crime group who police believe were responsible for at least 150 break-ins in just six months where £500,000 (€590,000) worth of jewellery and cash was taken.

The ruthless gang carried out surveillance on their targets and would break into homes both while people were in and when they were out and particularly targeted elderly victims.

Police arrested five members of the gang back in 2019 but Casey and two other gang members went on the run which led to a manhunt involving police in the UK and gardai in Ireland.

Casey was the last gang member at large when he was eventually arrested in Manchester in April in a Mercedes car full of tools and stolen catalytic converters.

He was sentenced to four years in prison this week at Swansea Crown Court this week for the multiple break-ins in Wales and England and theft of catalytic converters.

The court heard that as well as being involved in at least a dozen burglaries in south Wales he was one of a number of men who broke into a house in Greater Manchester and held a 78-year-old woman prisoner before ripping rings and necklaces from her body in June 2017.

The gang had forced their way into the elderly woman’s house by pretending they were police officers executing a search warrant and left her house completely ransacked.

They then fled in a stolen vehicle but were later chased by police who eventually cornered them into a cul de sac in Stockport.

The gang then rammed the police car and managed to get away but police later recovered masks and face masks from inside the vehicle.

In August 2017 Casey was involved in a series of burglaries in locations across Wales including Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot.

They were part of a much large number of burglaries which police believed were being orchestrated by the same gang.

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Police in South Wales launched Operation Timmia to identify the gang and subsequently established they were being run from a Traveller site in Swansea.

The operation led to eight gang members being jailed for a total of 47 years with Casey the last member of the gang be jailed when he was sentenced on Friday.

The gang would carry out surveillance to identify houses which were likely to have jewellery or elderly residents.

They posed as scrap metal dealers driving around estates carrying out their surveillance or sometimes would go door-to-door posing as handymen to identify their victims. In other instances, they would call to houses claiming they were responding to an ad for something for sale online and pretend they had the wrong address and in other cases they would brazenly just walk up to people’s windows and look in.

Masked gang members would later smash or force their way into homes before taking jewellery and cash. In several raids they would spray bleach or other cleaning products around the homes to try to destroy forensic evidence.

They also threatened any homeowners or witnesses they came across during the raids with screwdrivers and bats.

In one of the raids terrified children locked themselves in a bathroom crying while the gang ransacked their home and police said the gangs seemed to take pleasure in it.

Walesonline reported that Casey’s barrister told the court on Friday that he had grown up as part of the Traveller community in Limerick before moving to the UK at the age of 16 where he fell under the influence of older, criminally minded uncles and cousins.

He was still just 16 when he took part in the June 2017 raid and continued his involvement up until his arrest in April this year.

In one burglary Casey was involved in in Skwen in Wales the gang made off jewellery worth £70,000 (€82,700).

Five members of the gang - Kieran, Patrick, Daniel, William and David Joyce - were later arrested and jailed for conspiracy to burgle following a trial in 2019.

Michael Casey and two others, Daniel Casey and Wayne Harty, went on the run.

Daniel Casey was apprehended in January 2020 and subsequently jailed for over six years year while Wayne Harty was also apprehended and jailed for 18 months in September 2020.

Michael Casey was eventually caught in April this year following a high-speed chase in Stockport in Greater Manchester.

Police found a dozen stolen catalytic converters along with electric saws and drills, and a trolley jack in his car.

He pleaded guilty to burglary, conspiracy to burgle, theft, handling stolen good and going equipped for theft.

His barrister said he had grown up in Limerick where his mother kept him away from crime but at the age of 16 like his father and grandfather he went “travelling” and moved to the UK where he was under the “entirely corrosive influence” of “more criminally inclined” uncles and cousins.

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