Grandfather ‘invented an explanation’ to try to prove innocence after Hambledon burglaries

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A GRANDFATHER accused of being part of two terrifying raids on large homes ‘invented an explanation’ to try to prove his innocence, a court has heard.

The trial of Christopher Doughty continues with two barristers today giving their closing arguments on whether the 53-year-old committed two aggravated burglaries and was in possession of a loaded firearm.

Doughty is standing trial at Southampton Crown Court accused of being part of a highly-organised gang that targeted large properties in Hambledon and Southampton.

He is accused of being involved in break-ins at Dower House in Hambledon and in Dumbleton Close, Southampton – where more than £300,000 worth of jewellery and guns were stolen and occupants of both houses were blindfolded, tied up and threatened with violence.

Last October 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 a rifle stolen from the Southampton burglary.

Doughty later had alibis for his whereabouts for both burglaries - arguing he was enjoying an evening with his family when the Southampton raid happened.

But prosecutor Adam Feest said Doughty remained silent in initial police interviews in order to give himself time ‘to invent an explanation’.

He said there were three ‘pillars’ of incriminating evidence.

They were Doughty’s DNA, which was found on a door handle at Dower House, the loaded rifle found in the silver Vauxhall Astra that was stolen in the Southampton raid in August, and the similarities to a previous raid Doughty was convicted for in 2009.

Doughty has argued in court he is a reformed character.

But Mr Feest said: ‘Is he so unlucky that his DNA from his gloves happened to be on the door handle in a burglary of this nature?

‘Is he so unlucky that the rifle was found in his boot?

‘Is he so unlucky to have been convicted in 2009 of a burglary which shares all the hallmarks?

‘There comes a point when it’s not coincidence.’

Defence barrister Matthew Jewell said the jury of eight men and four women had to be ‘sure’ that Doughty was at the burglary in Southampton and Hambledon and knew that the gun was in the back of the Astra.

He said descriptions of two men acting suspiciously and changing their clothes near Dumbleton Close last August were of two men between 16 and 25.

There was no description of the third man involved in the burglary, said Mr Jewell.

Regarding the Hambledon burglary last October, one of the balaclava-clad burglars was described as a ‘black man’ and the other was ‘very short’ - neither matching Doughty.

Mr Jewell said there was no description of the third burglar.

He said the jury had to consider the possibility that someone else could have been wearing Doughty’s gloves and touched the door handle.

He cited Doughty’s first words when the police stopped him and found the gun in the back of the Astra ‘I think I have been set up’.

Mr Jewell highlighted the fact that Doughty’s DNA was not found on the rifle and asked ‘Where were the other guns?’ (that were stolen in the raid in Southampton).

Regarding the balaclava found in Doughty’s van at his Southampton home, he said: ‘Why does this clever and sophisticated professional criminal keep the balaclava?

‘All it tells you is that he is the owner of a balaclava.’

Earlier in the trial the jury was played a video from 90-year-old June Langdon, who, along with her carer Victoria Stamp, was held hostage while three men ransacked Dower House and made off with valuables.

Mr Jewell said the way Mrs Langdon had dealt with the incident was ‘remarkable’, but he said this could not emotionally sway the jury.

Doughty denies all the charges.

Other men believed to have been involved in the raids have never been found.

The jury will soon retire to consider their verdict.