Appeal court rules sentence as ""justifiably severe

PUBLISHED: 17:53 03 May 2007 | UPDATED: 20:01 01 June 2010

Stacey Elias Smith

Stacey Elias Smith

A 10-year jail term imposed on a 23-year-old for his role in a string of violent offences that plagued rural East Anglia, was not a day too long, Appeal Court judges ruled today (May 4).   Stacey Elias Smith was handed the sentence at Ipswich Crown Court

A 10-year jail term imposed on a 23-year-old for his role in a string of violent offences that plagued rural East Anglia, was not a day too long, Appeal Court judges ruled today (May 4).

Stacey Elias Smith was handed the sentence at Ipswich Crown Court after admitting conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and conspiracy to steal cars.

Smith, of The Poplars, Kirkham Lane, Wisbech, was prosecuted after police investigated a "serious, professional and organised" gang of raiders, operating throughout East Anglia and often targeting "vulnerable premises in small rural communities".

Mr Justice Ramsey, who today upheld Smith's ten-year term, said two police forces had to work together to crack the series of burglaries, which included nocturnal "ram-raids", adding that many of those involved were from the "travelling community".

The gang singled out targets in secluded rural locations, "safe in the knowledge that the police presence was sparse in such areas", said the judge.

The gang wore masks and carried baseball bats while carrying out the raids between 2004 and 2005, which were staged with high efficiency, and with each "player" given a defined role.

Smith was involved in five such offences, said the judge, but on the night of January 12 2005, he and an accomplice were captured on CCTV "reconnoitring" a shop that was later burgled.

On February 20 2005, CCTV again captured film of four men "smashing their way" into a shop in Soham, grabbing a quantity of cigarettes and "scratch" cards.

A high-speed chase ensued when police officers rushed to the scene, culminating in the get-away car rolling over several times before the occupants fled on foot.

In May 2005 a stolen car was used in a "ram-raid" on a shop. Another high-speed chase followed, leading to the eventual arrest of Smith and two others.

Smith appealed his total ten-year term on grounds that it was "manifestly excessive", also citing the fact that no guns were used in the offences.

But Mr Justice Ramsey - sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court with Lord Justice Rix and Judge Stewart QC - said the sentence was "justifiably severe" , concluding that "It cannot be described as excessive or wrong in principle".

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