Lithuanian gang jailed over house break-in

A ROVING gang of jobless Lithuanians has been jailed after admitting breaking into a house in north Northumberland, where they left anti-English graffiti and stole belongings.

Newcastle Crown Court heard on Tuesday how the five foreign nationals were discovered squatting in the home at Lesbury Road, Hipsburn, on November 23 last year, after a neighbour spotted a broken pane of glass in the front door.

When police arrived at the address, the intruders fled through a bedroom window, scrambling over the roof of the conservatory before making a dash for nearby woodland, where they were all arrested shortly after.

During their hasty exit, they had grabbed a DVD player, digital television box, ornaments and a set of nail-clippers. They also left obscene graffiti written on a wall in Lithuanian, which branded English people as ‘homosexuals’.

Appearing before Judge Michael Cartlidge, two of the group – 37-year-old Vytautas Ignotavicius and Maksas Poskinas, 22 – pleaded guilty to burglary, while Mantas Stupelis, 20, Evaldas Medelis, 20, and 19-year-old Vaidas Charcenko had earlier admitted their guilt at South East Northumberland Magistrates’ Court.

The crown court heard how Charcenko was already subject to a six-month conditional discharge for theft and going equipped, while Stupelis had racked up five convictions for dishonesty during 2011 and had served a two-month prison sentence in Scotland. Medelis had six convictions for similar offences over the same period, also serving jail time.

All the men, who needed an interpreter at the hearing, gave the same address at Nelson Street in Lincoln when questioned. They claimed they were in Britain to find work, despite none of them being able to speak English.

It was while heading back from Scotland by train and on foot that they ran out of money, so they decided to break into the unoccupied house, which is close to Alnmouth Railway Station, to sleep.

Jailing them for between 10 and 12 months, less time spent on remand, Judge Cartlidge asked whether he had powers to deport, but was told that as EU citizens, they had a right to be in the UK, including the right to claim benefits.