Published: 18:40, 20 November 2020
| Updated: 19:29, 20 November 2020
The heartbroken mother of a student who killed herself months after being terrorised in a knifepoint burglary posed a question to one of the raiders, who has now been jailed.
Professional burglar Johnny Connors was part of the gang which threatened to kill the 21-year-old victim while they ransacked her Walderslade home during a 90-minute spree of burglaries.
Tragic Shivhani Sagar was forced face down on a bed when three men - one armed with a knife - raided her home on June 20 last year.
She was found dead at a Travelodge at Chatham Maritime in February this year after taking her own life.
Earlier today a statement from her distraught mother, Ninu Sagar, was read to the court and asked 25-year-old Connors a question.
She said: "No-one could have prepared me for what happened to my family. My daughter, who was suffering from mental health issues, and who I thought was in the safest place in the world, was threatened in her own home.
"She then lived with the guilt of not being able to protect her family. I came home to find my daughter frightened and shaken. She was confused and scared.
'Was it worth it..?'
"The biggest influence on our lives was how this contributed to the downhill struggle of my daughter's mental health which then led to her taking her own life.
"The question that needs to be asked by those involved is: "Was it worth it?"
However, Shivhani's statement - made in the aftermath of the burglary - helped convict one of the professional gang, Connors, who was jailed for five-and-a-half years at Maidstone Crown Court today.
Judge David Griffith-Jones QC told him: "Burglary is a vile offence and for Ms Sagar must have been an absolutely terrifying one - it is the stuff of nightmares.
"She later took her own life not, I may add, as a consequence of your actions but there was considerable trauma caused to her.
'he said: If you move I will kill you' and then put a pillow over my head, which he held down...'
"But you are a professional burglar and in your trial you brazenly tried to make a virtue of your chosen lifestyle."
He added that he accepted that Connors was not the man who carried the knife or threatened Ms Sagar.
Prosecutor Dominic Hockley told the court how the gang of three - travelling in a stolen Audi - carried out a series of burglaries and ransacking of homes in Kent and Essex looking for high-value items.
Ms Sagar, a student and sales assistant, had relived the moment her home was targeted in her statement to police.
She wrote: "I was at home on my own. I had taken a migraine tablet because I was feeling unwell.
"I started to walk down stairs and came face-to-face with a male walking up the stairs, who then covered his face with his hand."
She added: "He spoke and said: 'Go back in there', I went back into my room and he followed. He pushed me onto my bed so that I was face down.
"But before doing so he took a knife from his backpack. He then said: 'If you move I will kill you' and then put a pillow over my head, which he held down."
The thieves escaped with jewellery, £255 cash and a Ted Baker wallet and a number of electronic items were broken.
Connors, 25, of no fixed address,was found guilty of aggravated burglary and another break-in. He admitted a string of other burglary and handling stolen goods offences.
'I am bad, I am a dwelling burglar but I don't do aggravated burglary, that's not my metal...'
The prosecutor had told how the gang also raided the home of Mr Resham Sandhu in Temple Gardens in Strood after he left the property at 11am on June 20.
Mr Hockley said that when he returned home, Mr Sadhu couldn't get in because thieves had bolted the front door.
The raiders had broken in through a rear window before fleeing with cash and jewellery.
The prosecutor said that five days earlier on Saturday June 15 last year Connors had broken into a house at Rectory Road, Grays.
And on August 23 a detective went to Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court intending to arrest Connors for burgling a house in Valley Drive, Gravesend. He later pleaded guilty to that offence.
Mr Hockley revealed that it was the first time that the officer had seen Connors and "immediately recognised" him from the CCTV footage from Temple Gardens and Walderslade Road.
Connors told a jury he was a professional burglar who stole to feed his cocaine habit.
But the Dublin-born convicted thief denied taking part in the two raids in Kent.
He said: "I am bad, I am a dwelling burglar but I don't do aggravated burglary, that's not my metal."
DC Dan Bister said: "Connors is one of three men who subjected a completely innocent woman to a terrifying ordeal inside her own home.
'His sentence is a good result not only for the victims, but for anyone living in North Kent...'
"The attack was cowardly and understandably left her in fear of her life.
"The other two incidents, which saw more than £10,000 in property stolen, further emphasise his bad character and I have no doubt that if he were on the streets now, he would still be offending.
"His sentence is a good result not only for the victims, but for anyone living in North Kent."