Matthew Lawrence Brown, 30, Terrance Brown and Otis Barrett, both 26, carried out 45 burglaries over a 3-month period throughout the national lockdown.
They primarily targeted retail premises in order to steal cigarettes, mostly in the Northamptonshire area between February and May 2020, which they sold on for profit. They stole items worth a total of almost £300,000 and caused around £120,000 in damage to the premises they burgled. The gang’s spree was stopped after they were caught red-handed by police and arrested in May.
The three offenders played a leading role in a sophisticated gang numbering up to five members. They communicated via WhatsApp and Snapchat, and regularly carried out physical reconnaissance of their targets. The national lockdown forced the gang to become more localised to Northampton as they could no longer easily travel outside of their local areas without attracting attention.
On one occasion, police were able to recover some of the stolen cigarettes but within 24 hours the gang were able to identify the location of where they had been stored – at a civilian warehouse – and steal them back. In order to facilitate the audacious plan they threatened a staff member who was employed to protect the site and made off again with the cigarettes.
They were sentenced on 4 September at Northampton Crown Court. Matthew Brown and Terrance Brown were each sentenced to 6 years’ imprisonment. Otis Barrett was sentenced to 6 years’ and 4 month’s imprisonment.
Their sentences were referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General under the Unduly Lenient Sentence (ULS) scheme.
On 17 December, in a joint hearing at the Court of Appeal, the sentences were found to be unduly lenient. Matthew Brown’s sentence was increased to 9 years’ imprisonment, Terrance Brown’s was increased to 9 years’ and Otis Barrett’s was increased to 9 years’ and 4 months.
After the hearing at the Court of Appeal the Attorney General, Rt Hon Suella Braverman QC MP, said:
“This audacious gang is responsible for hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage and stolen goods. I welcome the Court’s judgment as it reflects the severity of their crimes.“