Farm raiders jailed over terrifying gunpoint attack

John Naisbitt
John Naisbitt

A BRAVE north Northumberland farmer fought back against two night-time burglars who struck at his home in a terrifying gunpoint raid.

Adam Pringle was subjected to a violent attack at his Denwick property after he was awoken by a masked man with an imitation pistol in the early hours of March 5 this year.

Abie Michael Mark Stewart.

Abie Michael Mark Stewart.

But the plucky 53-year-old battled back, feigning unconsciousness after being pistol-whipped, and then, as the raiders fled with a haul of shotguns, Mr Pringle gave chase in his car and rammed one of the men off the road.

At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, John Naisbitt, 35, of Devon Street, Houghton, was jailed for 12 years while Abie Stewart, of Thorndale Road, Newcastle, was jailed for 11 years with an extended four year licence period.

The court heard how Naisbitt hatched a plan with pal Stewart to storm the remote property and make off with high-value possessions.

In the early hours of March 5, the pair travelled to north Northumberland and carried out the terrifying plot.

The duo targeted the isolated house and made sure the phone and internet lines were cut before the raid.

The court heard how Mr Pringle woke to find a pistol being pointed at his head.

In the hours that followed the victim was repeatedly pistol whipped with such force he bled heavily and the gun, a Dan Weston gas powered revolver, broke.

During his ordeal the farmer, who has been commended by the judge for his bravery, struggled with the intruders and pretended to have been rendered unconscious.

Prosecutor Jolyon Perkes told the court the raiders made off with shotguns, mobile phones, a camera and the victim’s Toyota land cruiser, which was driven at him as the intruders fled.

They both went on to admit aggravated burglary.

Judge Guy Whitburn told Naisbitt: “Between you, you hatched a very complicated and incredibly detailed plan.

“In your own handwriting you wrote out a number of isolated farm houses that could be robbed.

“No doubt you hoped there would be nobody there but there was and disastrous consequences followed.”

Lee Fish, defending, said Naisbitt, whose mother died last week while he was on remand, has expressed real remorse for what happened that night and said it was down to financial pressures.

Naisbitt, who has convictions for being a “fraudster” in the past, told a probation official: “Sorry doesn’t even cover it”.

The judge told Stewart: “It was a deliberate targeting and when you got there you went into the premises and remained for a long time.

“You confronted the farmer, who was in bed asleep.

“You had a mask on and you thereafter pistol-whipped him with a gas-powered pistol to such an extent it broke.

“You realised the man was unconscious, or perhaps was, but you continued to pilage.”

The judge commended the victim for his bravery during the ordeal.

Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Paul Knox, who led the inquiry, said: “This was an extremely traumatic experience for the victim, who was awoken in his own home by a masked man armed with an imitation pistol and subjected to a violent attack.

“Thankfully he suffered only minor injuries, but his mental scars will take much longer to heal.

“Despite his ordeal, the victim managed to bravely pursue the offenders until they were arrested by police a short time later.

“I am pleased with these sentences, which send out a clear message to anyone involved in this sort of violence that they will be caught and can expect to spend a substantial period of time behind bars.”