Published: 10:00, 03 June 2016
Three men wreaked terror when they went to two homes at night armed with weapons including a shotgun and caused damage in an attempt to steal property, a court heard.
Residents at a flat in Langdon Road, Rochester, heard loud banging in the communal area in the early hours of October 20 last year.
Prosecutor Benjamin Burge said a mother living in the flat saw men wearing balaclavas smashing the front door with a baseball bat. The woman shouted she was calling the “old bill”.
Her son came down to see the window breaking. He grabbed a knife and warned he would hurt them if they came any further.
“One of the men pointed a shotgun directly at him,” Mr Burge told Maidstone Crown Court.
“He barricaded himself and his mother into the flat.” Neighbours heard the commotion and some saw the men walking off. They heard one intruder shouting: “Shoot him, shoot him.”
They got into a Citroen Berlingo van and drove off. About 30 minutes later at about 2.50am the three men – Joseph Walsh, 21, Nathan Odgers, 30, and 18-year-old Benjamin Hunnisett went to a flat at Hever House, Cypress Court, Strood.
A woman living there awoke to see them in the hallway armed with pieces of wood. They demanded: “Where’s the food?”
“She said they should get out of her home,” said Mr Burge. “They turned and left.”
The police were called and officers followed the van as it sped off dangerously before going into a dead end in Priestfield Road, Gillingham.
The three ran off. Odgers was found hiding under a bush and was bitten by a police dog when he tried to make off. The two others were also arrested.
A search of the van revealed a Beretta semi-automatic shotgun which had been stolen in a burglary. It was not loaded and there was no ammunition in the van.
Officers also found on Odgers’ mobile phone photos of him and Walsh posing with the gun.
Judge Jeremy Carey said the pair appeared to be enjoying the experience of holding the shotgun in pictures on the mobile phone.
Told that threats were made for them to commit the offence because of drug debts, the judge said the three had a choice as to whether they embarked on such serious criminality.
He said: “Those who, whether they are under limited pressure or not, are in possession of lethal weapons and who brandish them in front of innocent home owners are committing a grave crime and must be punished accordingly.
“It must have been a terrifying experience for home owners to wake up to this spectacle. There were serious threats of violence with a gun.”
Walsh, of Halton Crescent, Hastings, Odgers, of Southdown Avenue, Hastings, and Hunnisett, of Seafield Road, Hove, admitted aggravated burglary, attempted aggravated burglary and possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
Odgers also admitted dangerous driving, possessing cocaine with intent to supply and possessing heroin. Hunnisett admitted possessing cocaine and cannabis.
Odgers was sentenced to 10-and-a-half years in jail, Walsh to seven-and-a-half years and Hunnisett to four years in youth custody.