Members of a family who carried out scores of burglaries which netted £500,000-worth of jewellery and other items have no assets which can be found, a court has heard.
As a result each has now been ordered to pay back just £1 – and been given 28 days to cough up the cash.
Over a six-month period brothers Keiran, Patrick, Daniel, William, and David Joyce, along with their brother-in-law Daniel Casey, conspired together to raid homes across Llanelli, Swansea, the Swansea Valley, Neath, the Afan Valley, Port Talbot, Porthcawl, and Maesteg.
The burglaries followed a similar pattern with the gang using stolen cars on cloned or stolen number plates to get to and from their target properties, often carrying out half a dozen burglaries or more in a single day.
While some of the group stayed in the car to act as lookout and getaway driver the others would smash their way into the houses, usually via a rear door or window. Once inside they would ransack the property looking primarily for expensive gold jewellery and on a number of occasions sprayed bleach or other cleaning products on door handles and other surfaces to try to frustrate any subsequent forensic investigation.
If the burglars encountered neighbours or other witnesses as they fled they would threaten them by brandishing screwdrivers, baseball bats, or other weapons or intimidate them with gestures such as making a gun-shape with a hand.
It is estimated the jewellery they stole could be worth up to £500,000 but very little of it has ever been recovered. The whereabout of the items, or any money raised by its sale, remains unknown.
The base for the conspiracy was the Joyce’s “unofficial but tolerated” travellers site at Mill Stream Way in Swansea Vale, Swansea.
Over a six-month period between July 2018 and January 2019 Keiran Joyce, aged 29, of Mynells Gorse travellers site, Golf Course Lane, Leicester, Patrick Joyce, aged 22, of HMP Onley, Northamptonshire, William Joyce, aged 24, formerly of Mill Stream Way but now of HMP Swansea, Daniel Joseph Joyce, aged 35, of Mill Stream Way, and David Joyce – who can now be named for the first time having turned 18 – of Mill Stream Way, raided dozens of homes. All were convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary following a lengthy trial at Swansea Crown Court last November and December.
Get the latest on crime in your area:
Their brother-in-law, 28-year-old Daniel Casey, of Mynells Gorse travellers site, Golf Course Lane, Leicester, pleaded guilty to the same offence in March this year having been arrested by Leicestershire Police following a lengthy period on the run. He was later jailed for six years.
An associate of the family, Wayne Harty, aged 18 and also of Mynells Gorse travellers site, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burglary last week and is currently awaiting sentence.
Two other defendants were convicted of handling stolen goods in relation to items taken during the burglaries – Mary Kate Connors, aged 24, of Rhossilly Avenue, Rumney, Cardiff, and the Joyce brothers’ mother Christine Joyce, aged 60, of Mill Stream Way, Swansea Vale, Swansea.
The trial and convictions followed a pre-dawn police raid on the Swansea Vale travellers site in January last year as part of Operation Timmia, a probe into a huge number of burglaries committed across south Wales.
At the site items stolen in nine different burglaries were recovered and officers also found a number of burned out mobile phones and sim cards. In a hidden compartment under the floor of one of the caravans police found thousands of pounds in cash – though nobody has come forward to say it is their money. Police also found two of the caravans at the site had themselves been stolen.
The case returned to Swansea Crown Court for a series of hearings over the last week to consider applications for confiscation orders under Proceeds of Crime Act (Poca) powers and applications for serious crime prevention orders (SCPOs) for a number of the defendants.
Poca orders are designed to hit criminals in the pocket by stripping them of their ill-gotten gains while SCPOs are orders designed to restrict and prevent serious criminal conduct in the future, for example by requiring a defendant to keep police informed about the registration of any vehicle they use or the number of any phones they have.
Applying for the Poca confiscation orders Ian Wright, who prosecuted in last year’s trial, said the conspirators had “targeted high-value jewellery they could convert to cash,” adding: “These defendants dissipated the cash they made during the conspiracy.”
How much they each have to pay back
The barrister said Keiran Joyce had benefited from his criminal conduct to the tune of some £375,655 – but the authorities have been unable to find any assets and the defendant was ordered to pay just £1. The court heard the defendant has been served with a deportation notice by the Home Office and could be sent back to the Republic of Ireland and banned from returning to the UK.
Patrick Joyce’s benefit figure was put at £110,157. Again no assets can be found and he too was made the subject of a nominal £1 confiscation order. His barrister, Henry James, said: “There is no suggestion that Patrick Joyce has a penny to his name”.
Co-defendant Daniel Casey was said to have benefited from the conspiracy by some £375,655 but again the court heard he has no available assets and a £1 confiscation order was made.
The same benefit figure was attributed to Daniel Joyce but the only money or assets financial investigators were able to find in his case was £100 in cash he was carrying when arrested and Judge Keith Thomas made a confiscation order for that amount.
The prosecutor said the benefit figure for William Joyce was £176,274. In his case assets were identified and a confiscation order for £15,400 was made. He was given three months to pay.
Mary Kate Connors was said to have benefited from her criminal conduct to the tune of £2,500 – the value of the stolen Louis Vuitton handbag she was given following a burglary at a house in Morriston. The court heard her available assets amount to more than that sum and in her case an order was made that she should pay £2,500 compensation to the victim. She was given three months to pay.
In addition to the Poca confiscation orders the judge made serious crime prevention orders in relation to five defendants – Daniel, Keiran, Patrick, and William Joyce, and Daniel Casey – despite objections from their barristers who said the proposed restrictions were too wide-ranging.
Mr James, for Patrick Joyce, had argued the order was not so much about controlling criminal behaviour as “breaking up an entire way of life” for the travelling community.