A knife-wielding burglar who tied up a couple in their 80s after smashing his way into their Wilmington home has been jailed for more than 11 years.

James Draper, 36, of Magpie Hall Close, Bromley, was forensically linked to tea towels he had used to bind his victims’ hands and feet together.

At around 10.15pm on September 25 in 2015, the victims were in the kitchen of their home in Birchwood Road.

Draper, armed with a knife, and an accomplice broke in after smashing two windows and the back door, before ordering the couple to get on the ground.

The couple were tied up with tea towels and a pair of tights.

The man’s watch was snatched from his wrist and he was dragged into a separate room away from his wife.

The burglars stole cash, jewellery, bank cards and other personal possessions, and then ripped a telephone in the house from the wall before fleeing in the elderly couple’s car.

The victims managed to free themselves and contacted police after flagging down a passer-by.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Rob Hemsley said: “This was a terrifying ordeal for the two victims, who were left traumatised to the extent that they now wish to leave their home of more than 40 years.

“James Draper displayed scant regard for their welfare and is clearly a dangerous man who belongs behind bars.

“The forensic evidence captured at the scene of the crime was absolutely vital in this case and has resulted in two serious offenders being brought to justice.

“The probability of the DNA on the tea towels belonging to anyone other than Draper was one in one billion, which demonstrates the importance of carrying out such tests.”

Draper pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, and also admitted a further break-in at a commercial premises in Swanley in June during which power tools, an Iveco commercial lorry and two BMW vehicles were stolen.

He was sentenced for both offences at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday (March 17) to a total of 11-and-a-half years.

He was also given an extended licence of five years.

Harry Cochrane, aged 20, of Leydenhatch Lane, Swanley, also pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary and to the theft of a motor vehicle, in relation to the Swanley incident.

He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years.

Draper’s accomplice in the Wilmington burglary - a 17-year-old boy from Dartford - was jailed last April for five years and four months.