Tunstall couple heartbroken after burglar strikes
A COUPLE returned from holiday to find their home of 23 years had been burgled.
John and Kath Bradbury came home from a week in Bridlington, Yorkshire, to discover rooms ransacked and personal items stolen.
Jewellery belonging to Mr Bradbury's late mother was taken in the burglary, as well as tools, digital cameras, a laptop and replica guns worth hundreds of pounds.
The couple, who are both retired and live in Williamson Street, Tunstall, have told The Sentinel how they were left in a state of disbelief when they got home and opened the door.
Former lorry driver Mr Bradbury, aged 63, said: "I had a feeling something was wrong as soon as I opened the front door. They'd forced open the back kitchen window to get into the house and everywhere had been left in a mess.
"We'd never been burgled in 23 years of living here so we weren't expecting anything like this.
"The police came and searched the house for fingerprints but they said whoever had done it had gloves on so they couldn't find anything."
Mrs Bradbury, a 62-year-old retired Royal Doulton figurine painter, said: "I had to sit down when we got in because I was just in shock and was struggling to breathe.
"John went upstairs to see if they had been up there and there were clothes everywhere and the door to our wardrobe had been ripped off.
"They took some of my jewellery and some of John's mum's jewellery, bottles of perfume, it just seemed like they took anything they knew they could sell on for money.
"Thankfully we were covered by our insurance but a lot of the items, like the jewellery and photographs on the laptop, can't be replaced."
The couple have since improved security at their home and fitted more CCTV cameras.
No-one has been caught for the burglary which happened between May 10 and 17, but 32-year-old Christopher Johnson was yesterday sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court to nine months in prison after admitting handling stolen goods.
Johnson, of Gibson Street, Tunstall, pleaded guilty to handling stolen Toby jugs and a replica pistol belonging to Mr Bradbury on May 19.
He also admitted handling a stolen generator worth £1,100 belonging to RS Miller Roofing.
Prosecuting, Fiona Cortese, told the court: "The defendant's partner, Charlotte Jackson, heard him receive a call from someone on May 16 about a generator which had been left at a work site near Stoke-on-Trent railway station.
"The following day she found a gun in a box under a cushion, and put the gun in the bin and left the box on top of the bin for the defendant to find.
"Police were called to a domestic dispute at the house and the woman told officers there was a stolen generator in the back of the defendant's transit van. It was checked and police confirmed it was stolen. A search of the house was carried out and police found three Toby jugs and a pistol."
Johnson, who has 25 previous court appearances, told police during interviews that he had found the items in a field.
Nicola Bell, mitigating, said: "His best mitigation by far is his early guilty plea.
"He has a family and the proceedings have had a great impact on them."