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Minster parish councillor Ian Day pleads with Herne Bay thief Clifford Airey to reveal location of stole First World War medals

By Paul Hooper

Parish councillor Ian Day will attend one of the most poignant Remembrance Day services at his Minster church this year - the 100th anniversary of the First World War - without his most treasured possessions.

He had planned to honour his family by listening to the moving ceremony in November clutching the precious medals his grandfather won.

But now Mr Day, of Tothill Street, will make the sad journey empty-handed – thanks to heartless drug addict Clifford Airey.

Herne Bay burglar Clifford Airey has been jailed
Herne Bay burglar Clifford Airey has been jailed

The 50-year-old serial thief broke into Mr Day’s home, smeared it with blood and took not only his grandfather’s unique decorations but also medals his brave father won in the Second World War.

In a written statement handed to the judge at Canterbury Crown Court, Mr Day made a plea to the burglar to tell him where the medals were.

But callous Airey, of William Street, Herne Bay – who appeared by prison video link – just remained silent.

His lawyer Oliver Kirk told the court the thief had been so high on a cocktail of cocaine, speed, heroin, methadone and anti-psychotic drugs that he could not remember.

He said: "He has no recollection because at the time he had been suffering a breakdown, having hallucinations and had taken a considerable mixture of drugs."

In his statement, Mr Day said he felt “frustratingly angry” because of the thefts.

An SAS cap badge was among the items stolen from Mr Day. Picture by: Matthew Walker
An SAS cap badge was among the items stolen from Mr Day. Picture by: Matthew Walker

He added: “These items were one-offs and meant an awful lot to me as they represent my family history. The items are also irreplaceable because they are unique.

“I would like the perpetrator to tell me where my items have gone. Part of my anger is the feelings of indignation and annoyance that someone has entered my home uninvited and trashed the rooms they entered.

“My feelings have gone from shock and anger to be very frustrated with the items that have been stolen. I have also felt dirty that this person was in my home.”

Mr Day told how he always went to his local church on Remembrance Sunday and “when I attend, I take my father’s and my grandfather’s medals with me in my pocket.”

The councillor added: “I am now extremely upset and emotional that when I attend the service in future, I will not have these medals in my possession. This makes me feel that I have let them down.”

The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court
The case was heard at Canterbury Crown Court

Among the items taken during the raid in June were two WW1 gold and bronze and silver medals, engraved with WJ Styles, which were kept in a Tom Thumb cigar case.

Airey also took two WW2 medals, a Royal Engineers Corp badge, an SAS cap badge, an SAS cloth badge and a badge awarded to ES Day from the Invicta Angling Association.

The thief, who admitted two burglaries including one at Joy Lane, Whitstable, when he again left his blood after stealing jewellery, was jailed for four years and 10 months.

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