AN elderly woman was threatened with rape unless she revealed the location of a diamond ring in a terrifying raid on her home, a court heard.
Christopher Doughty is accused of being part of a highly-organised gang that targeted large properties, in Hambledon and Southampton, tying up those inside and threatening them before stealing more than £300,000 of valuables.
These burglaries were highly organised, pre-planned, targeted, and carried out by a gang who knew what they were doing and were forensically awareProsecutor Adam Feest
The 53-year-old is also accused of being in possession of a loaded firearm – a Marlin rifle which was stolen from one of the raids. He denies all the charges.
Prosecutor Adam Feest told Southampton Crown Court that retired couple Anthony and Patricia Trist were at their Dumbleton Close home, in Southampton, on the evening of August 6, 2014.
As Mrs Trist was preparing to go to bed her husband was in the conservatory watching television.
At about 9pm a gang of balaclava-clad men smashed through the glass door of the conservatory and grabbed Mr Trist, dragging him to the hallway.
While two men remained with Mr Trist another two confronted his wife upstairs.
Both were blindfolded and bound to chairs with tape while the gang ransacked the property.
Mr Feest describe how the gang demanded Mrs Trist tell them where the ‘big ring’ was – a reference to an £80,000 diamond solitaire.
Distressed, she could not remember where it was and was warned she would be repeatedly raped if she did not remember.
The court heard how the couple had invested money in jewels, Rolex watches and guns. Mr Trist’s large collection of legally-held guns and ammunition were taken in the burglary.
As the men were leaving, about an hour and 45 minutes later, Mrs Trist begged them to call her daughter.
Calling from Mrs Trist’s mobile phone, one of the men simply said: ‘Get to your mum’s house now. It’s an emergency.’
Their daughter, Natalie George, immediately dialled 999 and the couple managed to free themselves.
Mr Feest said: ‘These burglaries were highly organised, pre-planned, targeted, and carried out by a gang who knew what they were doing and were forensically aware,
‘They blindfolded the householders, wore gloves and balaclavas. They were men who were clearly going about what they do best.’
Mr Feest described how, two months later, on October 8, 2014, the then-90-year-old June Langdon had just been settled for the evening by her carer Victoria Stamp, in The Dower House, Hambledon.
Miss Stamp told police she went to sleep at around 10.20pm.
The court heard it was difficult to pinpoint the exact time of the raid but Miss Stamp was woken up by three men in balaclavas jumping on her bed.
Terrified, she began shouting and screaming and they in turn slapped her and told her to calm down and that they would not harm her.
She was led to the living room where Mrs Langdon was asleep in an easy chair and the two were bound to chairs with tape and blindfolded while the men ransacked the property.
Mr Feest said the men demanded to know where the ‘expensive clocks’ and ‘silver’ were but in fact there was little of value in the house following a previous burglary.
But they took the wedding ring from Mrs Langdon’s finger.
The men are thought to have left some time after 4am and police arrived by 4.30am, once Miss Stamp had managed to struggle free.
‘As police arrived’, said Mr Feest, ‘Mrs Langdon was calling out to them from a window, whimpering, with her hands still tied in front of her’.
Three days later Doughty, of Holly Gardens, Southampton, was found in the driver’s seat of a silver-grey car in a Southampton car park which, when searched, was found to contain Mr Trist’s Marlin rifle, fully loaded, in the boot. There were also cloned number plates in the back with traces of Doughty’s DNA.
Mr Feest explained that further investigation at the Dower House revealed Doughty’s DNA on a door handle. A balaclava found in a van outside Doughty’s house also contained his DNA.
He added: ‘Two aggravated burglaries, strikingly similar hallmarks. DNA found at the scene of the crime. How did it get there? There is a link, not just between methodology, but Mr Doughty was found with one of the items stolen from the previous burglary.’
He went on, ‘He is a man prepared and willing to go in to other people’s houses in the way I have described and burgle them in the way I have described’.
Doughty denies all charges. The trial continues.