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Thief jailed after smashing into Barham Court, Teston and stealing gardening tools

A burglar has been jailed for a year after raiding the property which once housed a knight killer of martyr Thomas Becket.

Barham Court at Teston was where Reginald Fitz Urze resided more than 900 years ago before he fled to Ireland after the murder of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The building which was damaged by Luke Stewart-Day (20578639)
The building which was damaged by Luke Stewart-Day (20578639)

Now a judge has heard how a building in the grounds of the current Georgian Grade II listed property was targeted by thief Luke Stewart-Day in May.

Judge Stephen Thomas told him: "This was a particularly nasty burglary. It was an attack on commercial premises."

Maidstone Crown Court heard how he was in one of two cars spotted on CCTV when raiders smashed their way inside the brick building.

They caused more than £9,000 damage before fleeing with nearly £3,000 in gardening equipment.

Stewart-Day, 32, of Coombe Road, Maidstone, pleaded guilty to the burglary and was jailed for a year.

Barham Court at Teston. Photography by Matthew Walker
Barham Court at Teston. Photography by Matthew Walker

Daniel Cohen, defending said the group had chiselled their way and then kicked in the breeze blocks.

"This wasn't a case of gratuitous vandalism. This is a blip and not a return to being a career burglar," he added.

Stewart-Day was caught after his DNA was discovered inside the building and when police raided his home they found some of the stolen hedgetrimmer.

Barham Court, which also entertained reformer William Wilberforce as a guest, was re-modelled in the 18th century. It is now home to an events company and offices.

Matthew Simpson, prosecuting, said the power tools were taken in the raid and "a considerable amount of damage" was caused.

Luke Stewart-Day
Luke Stewart-Day

Detective Constable Rachel Laidlaw said: "Investigating officers were able to quickly connect Stewart-Day to the crime but not before he caused a considerable amount of damage to the property at Barham Court.

"Offences such as these will not be tolerated.

"We have teams of officers dedicated to tackling burglary and would always urge members of the public to report all break-ins, including those to garages and lock-ups.

"Thankfully due to the hard work of the officers involved in this case Stewart-Day has now been imprisoned for his crimes."

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