Two robbers who broke into a doctor’s home and tied up terrified housesitters before making off with a large haul of jewellery have been jailed for a total of 28 years.
A judge told brothers Daren Richardson and Kevin Williams: "You both clearly prepared carefully for the robbery. There are numerous aggravating factors, including the degradation of your victims, and there really is no mitigation."
They denied robbery, false imprisonment and aggravated vehicle taking, but were convicted in November.
CCTV captures the moment their van crashed following the robbery
Richardson, who laughed as he went to the cells, was jailed for 14-and-a-half years. Williams was jailed for 13-and-a-half years.
Richardson, of Windmill Road, Gillingham, appeared in the dock alone at the tiral as Williams, of Wratten Road West, Hitchen, Hertfordshire, jumped bail on October 22. A warrant was issued and he was later arrested.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the pair knew about the valuable jewellery at the house in Shaws Way, Rochester, because Richardson’s partner Tracey Clark worked there as a cleaner.
The 55-year-old, of Church Street, Rochester, had been charged with Richardson, 52, and Williams, 60, but she has since died.
Retired couple Peter and Karen Lenz were housesitting at the home of GP Dudley Hubbard and his opera singer wife Christine when the robbers struck in the early hours of February 16.
“This house was specifically targeted as there was a significant amount of jewellery there,” said prosecutor Christopher May. “The robbers concentrated on stealing jewellery. They left behind other items such as laptops.
“There must, therefore, have been information available to them which led them to choose this particular house.”
Australians Mr and Mrs Lenz were upstairs in the guest bedroom. The back door had not been locked because the dogs had not yet been let out.
The two robbers, wearing balaclavas, went upstairs and made threats, saying they had a knife and demanding to know where the jewellery was.
They bound the victims hand and foot and hooded them with pillow cases as they lay on the bed.
“This was a terrifying ordeal for them,” said Mr May. “The robbers eventually left having found a large quantity of Mrs Hubbard’s jewellery. She had a great deal of jewellery she had amassed over the years.”
The raiders took the keys of Mr and Mrs Lenz’s transit van and drove off in it. They crashed it soon afterwards into railings outside Rochester Grammar School.
Richardson also knew the house because he had been a window cleaner there and recommended his partner for the cleaning job.
Richardson’s DNA was found on rope or cable used to tie up the couple. Williams’ DNA was on a balaclava retrieved from the crashed van.
Some of the jewellery, which was worth “tens of thousands of pounds”, and the victims’ mobile phones were with the discarded hood.
Clark had pawned some of the jewellery. Stones had been removed from some of the rings. There were also two Rolex watches.
Richardson has 63 previous convictions for 152 offences, including violence and burglary. He was on licence at the time.
The judge, Recorder James Mulholland QC, said the brothers were “equal partners” in an “extraordinarily terrifying ordeal” for the victims.
"You decided to make the Hubbards pay for their interference in your life while also seeking a substantial financial reward," he told Richardson.
"Both the Lenzs were undoubtedly absolutely terrified during their ordeal. Mr Lenz's life has been changed forever. He describes feeling complete and utter terror that his life was going to end.
"He says that night he was the closest to death he has ever been, and it has a continuing impact on him.
“Karen Lenz describes fearing for her life and she cannot talk to her husband about the shadows she finds in her night-time dreams.”