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theft ring Irish burglar who made €145k from crime spree ordered to pay back just £1 - after blowing all his cash

The 21-year-old was part of a gang that made off with a huge haul of items that they had stolen from dozens of carefully selected houses across south Wales

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Michael Casey

Michael Casey

Michael Casey

An Irish burglar who was part of a family gang that stole some £500,000 (€600,000) worth of jewellery has been ordered to pay back just £1 (€1.19) for his part in the series of thefts. 

A court has been told that Michael Casey, with an address in Leicestershire but is originally from Limerick, has no assets, resulting in a nominal £1 confiscation order.

The 21-year-old was part of a gang that made off with a huge haul of items that they had stolen from dozens of carefully selected houses across south Wales, most of which have never been recovered.

He was the last member of the gang to be caught and jailed, after spending two years on the run from the police.

At the latest hearing this week, the court heard that Casey had benefited from his criminality to the tune of £121,117.89, but financial investigators had been unable to find any available assets.

The court was told Casey had grown up in Limerick in Ireland where his mother had kept away from criminality.

However, Casey went "travelling" when he was 16-years-old to the UK, described in court as being the custom in the community, and became involved with a burglary gang.

Small groups of three or four gang members would often target half a dozen houses in a single night then dump their vehicles and burn their clothes.

Wearing masks and gloves and driving stolen cars would smash their way into targeted properties before fleeing with their loot.

During one burglary alone, the thieves stole gold and other jewellery items worth £70,000 from a house in Skewen.

However, the various members of the gang were eventually identified, caught, and jailed, after police launched a major operation.

During the investigation police discovered the gang carried out reconnaissance missions to identify suitable targets by pretending to be scrap merchants looking for metal.

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They targeted elderly homeowners or people who they believed had large quantities of jewellery and used stolen cars showing cloned or stolen number plates to get to and from their target properties.

They would then carry out half a dozen or more break-ins in a single day.

While some of the group stayed in the car to act as lookout and getaway driver the others would smash their way into the houses and ransack them looking primarily for gold jewellery leaving behind other high value items such as electrical goods.

While many of the houses were empty at the time, on a number of occasions they encountered their victims and in one case, terrified children had to lock themselves into the bathroom while the gang ransacked their home.

They also often used bleach or other cleaning products on door handles and light switches to try to frustrate any subsequent forensic investigation.

In total, the gang stole jewellery worth around £500,000 (€600k) but almost none of it has ever been found, nor has any money from its onward sale been traced.

While other members of the group were arrested in January 2019, officers were unable to locate Casey.

After a major manhunt involving police around the UK and Ireland, he was arrested in Greater Manchester in April last year, with a Mercedes car full of tools and stolen catalytic converters.

In October last year, Casey was sentenced to four years in prison.

Eugene Hickey, who was representing the defendant, said Casey had grown up in Limerick in Ireland, where his mother had kept him away from crime.

But Mr Hickey told the court that once away from home the impressionable teenager fell under the "entirely corrosive influence" of older and "more criminally inclined" uncles and cousins who "should have known better".

The barrister said that Casey had written a letter to the court in which he expressed his remorse for his actions, and said he now just wanted to settle down, find work, and start a family.

At the latest hearing this week, the court heard that Casey had benefited from his criminality to the tune of £121,117.89, but financial investigators had been unable to find any available assets.

A nominal £1 confiscation order was requested and made.

In granting the order, judge Paul Thomas QC warned that if the defendant were to come by any assets at a future date, they could be recovered by the court.

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