A Havant man was part of a gang who stole more than £400,000 of designer goods from the mansion of former England captain John Terry.
The men have been jailed for nearly 28 years for a series of raids on luxury homes.
Judge Susan Tapping, sentencing at Kingston Crown Court, said the Terry burglary was part of a ‘carefully planned’ series of raids on large luxury homes by a gang who are ‘experienced if not professional burglars’.
She described it as ‘a very successful campaign’ spanning seven burglaries in which £600,000 worth of goods were stolen.
They were carried out by four men, each with a long history of offending, who gave no reaction from the dock as they were sentenced to a total of 27 years and 11 months in prison.
Another ‘unidentified’ suspect who was not in court was also involved, the judge said.
Terry’s mansion in Oxshott, Surrey, was targeted in February after the player posted pictures from the slopes of the French Alps with his wife Toni, telling his 3.4 million Instagram followers that he was having a ‘great few days away skiing with the family’.
The thieves took the chance to help themselves to property including designer handbags worth £126,00, more than £220,000 of jewellery and rare signed first edition Harry Potter books valued at £18,000.
The judge said: ‘It might have been a mistake to post a family photograph on social media to show that he was away on holiday. His home was deliberately targeted and the master bedroom suite was ransacked.’
The judge said the thieves were ‘not content with the original haul’ and so returned with an unidentified man ‘and an angle grinder, determined to get in the safe.’
She said: ‘The noise woke the housekeeper and the alarm had been triggered.’
Darren Eastaugh, 30, Joshua Sumer, 27, Roy Head, 28, and Oliver Hart, 25, have pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit burglary between February 1 and March 27 this year. The burglaries took place in Surrey and Sussex.
Eastaugh, of Bedfont, London, was sentenced to seven years and three months, Sumer, of Havant, Portsmouth, was sentenced eight years, Head, of Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, was jailed for seven years and four months and Hart, also of Walton-on-Thames, was jailed for five years and four months.
A fifth man, Kye Hardy-King, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of handling stolen goods when some of the property was found at his home. He was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for 12 months, a two-month curfew and a rehabilitation requirement.
A £42,000 snakeskin Hermes bag along with a blue python bag valued at £8,250 were among the items taken from the Terry mansion.
Bags by Chanel, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent were also among the haul. Nothing that was taken from the Terry mansion has been recovered.
By the time they had finished, the gang had caused £19,000 of damage to Terry’s home. They had ransacked the property and plundered the master bedroom before leaving, only to return to try to break into a safe using an angle grinder.
Among the other burglary victims was a recently widowed woman who is now left feeling ‘nervous and isolated’ in her home, according to the judge.
The judge said the gang had wanted to ransack these luxury home undisturbed and that, for the victims, the ‘mental trauma may be hard to heal fully’. The judge stated that ‘victims have the right to feel safe in their own homes’.
Prosecutor Rossano Scamardella had told the court: ‘Mr Terry made the mistake of positing a photograph of himself and his family on the social media platform, Instagram, revealing, as it must have done to anyone who saw it, that their house was empty.’
After sentencing, Surrey Police Detective Constable Phil Carter, the officer in charge of the case, said: ‘The loss to victims was substantial, with a total value for the seven offences in the region of £600,000. High-value homes were targeted, some with occupants present during the offences, which is likely to have been very upsetting for them.
‘I welcome the sentences handed down today. They reflect the very serious nature of these offences. This was a complex investigation completed with help from the Flying Squad whose assistance proved crucial in securing the defendants’ guilty pleas.’