Crack addict jailed following series of Dartford burglaries

John Saunders

John Saunders

First published in News News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

A crack addict who went on a crime spree through Dartford to fund his habit has been jailed for five and a half years.

John Saunders, of Gordon Road, Northfleet, was jailed at Maidstone Crown Court on June 6 after he pleaded guilty to two robberies, three burglaries and one attempted burglary committed in March and April of this year.

The 33-year-old also asked for five further offences – robbery, burglary and attempted burglary – to be taken into consideration upon sentence.

News Shopper:

Saunders robbed Shoppers Amusement in the High Street at around 9.25pm on April 9 while wearing a balaclava and threatening staff with a kitchen knife. When the employee could not open the safe, Saunders ripped a money belt containing £70 from her waist.

Just three days later, he robbed the Harvester restaurant in Dartford Road at around 11.30pm. Saunders walked in with part of his face covered and threatened to 'smack' the manager over the head before forcing him to hand over around £1,000.

Overnight on March 12, Saunders broke into the Watt Tyler pub in the High Street, stealing a quantity of cash and some alcohol.

On April 8, he broke into the Granada Bingo Hall in Spital Street and searched the premises before he was discovered when he set off the alarm and escorted from the property by staff.

The following day, he was seen loitering outside Raw Hairdressing, also in Spital Street. When staff investigated, they realised he had stolen £200 from the cash box.

Detectives investigating the robbery at Shoppers Amusements arrested Saunders on April 16. However, when they looked at the crimes as a linked series, they realised Saunders had committed most of the crimes wearing the same outfit.

Further evidence was built up against Saunders, who admitted the offences in interview, saying he had needed the cash to buy crack cocaine.

He then asked for a number of other offences to be taken into account.

Investigating officer, DC Dameon Shaw said: "Claiming to be frantic to find money to buy drugs, Saunders committed a series of offences throughout Dartford.

"He made no bones about the fact he committed the crimes to purchase crack cocaine.

"However, his selfish actions have deeply distressed his victims and, in one case, left a member of staff so traumatised she has been unable to return to work. Saunders claims to be remorseful over his actions. Unfortunately, that remorse won't take back the fright and upset he caused to innocent people caught up in his crime spree.

"Drug habits are often the motivation behind crime but that will not stop those offenders being brought to justice."

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