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Herne Bay burglar Clifford Airey jailed after swallowing gold chain

By Bess Browning

A prolific burglar swallowed a gold chain in a bid to hide it from police.

Clifford Airey, 52, who was once jailed for stealing prized family medals from a veteran's son, has now been locked up for eight years after pleading guilty to burglary and handling stolen goods.

The serial thief, of William Street in Herne Bay, stole a gold chain from one home and was later arrested after raiding another property, where it was discovered he had ingested the necklace.

Prolific burglar Clifford Airey. PICTURE KENT POLICE.

Prolific burglar Clifford Airey. PICTURE: KENT POLICE.

Airey was arrested on the evening of Tuesday, January 31 for a burglary which took place in Victoria Park, Herne Bay on Wednesday, January 25.

When he was taken into custody, officers discovered he had swallowed a gold chain.

The chain belonged to the victim of another burglary which had also taken place on January 31 in Daytona Way. 

Airey received six years in prison for the burglary in Victoria Park and an additional two years for the handling of stolen goods after he was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday, March 3.

"Airey is a prolific burglar and has caused significant suffering" - DC Kirsty Martin

Detective constable Kirsty Martin said: "Airey is a prolific burglar and has caused significant suffering.

"He’s now in prison for a considerable amount of time where he can no longer pose a threat to the community."

In 2014, Airey, who was then described as a "heartless drug addict", was jailed for four years after he broke into a house, smeared his blood on the property and then stole war medals. 

He then caused further anguish by refusing to reveal what he had done with the military decorations.

The medals had belonged to parish councillor Ian Day, from Minster, who had planned to honour his grandfather WJ Styles at a service commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

In a written statement read out in court, Mr Day made a desperate plea to Airey to reveal where they were - but Airey stayed silent.

Airey also took two Second World War medals, a Royal Engineers Corps badge, an SAS cap badge, an SAS cloth badge and a badge awarded to ES Day from the Invicta Angling Association.

At the time, he was also convicted of stealing jewellery from a home in Joy Lane in Whitstable.

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