Gang of machete-wielding burglars who raided the luxury mansion of Premier League star Demarai Gray while his girlfriend and their baby were in bed have been jailed for a total of 85 years.
The Leicester City midfielder’s partner Emma Hickman, 22, was naked and looking after their six-week-old boy when the thugs burst in to the property last March.
Robbers made off with £24,000 in cash and jewellery after also threatening to harm Ms Hickman’s mother when they learned she was on the way, a court was told.
The former England Under-21 player was not at home at the time but his girlfriend was left ‘absolutely petrified’ and later moved out of the property in Barnt Green, Worcestershire.
She told jurors: ‘I was asleep when someone came into my bedroom.
‘I had no idea until I saw the man with the knife. I had no clothes on and I remained underneath the sheets.
‘They told me not to move and they said, ‘Where’s the money and the jewellery’. I let them know the money was in left-side drawer.
‘They all had weapons on them.
‘One of them had an orange machete, it was like a sword.’
The raid was part of a six-month crime spree by Aaron Jones, 29, Tyler Greenway, 20, Nicholas Rothero, 35, Cory Rothero, 19, and 41-year-old Darren Sadler.
Today, the gang were jailed for a combined 85 years at Birmingham Crown Court following a string of raids across the West Midlands.
Jones and Greenway, both from Northfield, Birmingham, were both found guilty of conspiracy to rob following a trial.
Jones was also convicted of conspiracy to possess a firearm and was jailed for 27 years while Greenway was caged for 15 years.
Nicholas Rothero, of Longbridge, Birmingham, and his son Cory, previously admitted conspiracy to rob, steal, burgle, and conspiracy to possess a firearm.
Nicholas was jailed for 24 years while Cory, of Northfield, was sentenced to 15 years in a young offender’s institution.
Sadler, of Bartley Green, Birmingham, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and was caged for four years.
The court was told previously how the ruthless gang targeted the footballer’s home deliberately because they believed there would be ‘rich pickings.’
They trapped Miss Hickman in her bedroom before swiping a Rolex watch and the keys to Gray’s Mercedes, which was not there as he was at training.
CCTV footage captured the balaclava-clad thugs pacing past a framed football shirt in the hallway of the gated property.
Ms Hickman said in a court statement: ‘They made a comment that my boyfriend was ‘a gangbanger’ and asked what time he was back.
‘My Rolex was on the side and they took it. They said my partner could buy me another one. I was absolutely petrified.
‘They did say they wouldn’t hurt me but they made threats against my mum, because I said she was on her way. They said, ‘She’ll get hurt, won’t she?’
Michael Duck QC, prosecuting, said during the trial: ‘They were looking for money.
‘Plainly they knew it was Demarai Gray’s premises. Plainly they had done some research.’
Jurors were told Jones’ phone showed he had searched for ‘Demarai Gray Leicester City’ some time before the raid.
A text sent by a gang member insisted: ‘Defo cash there’.
The violent armed gang also targeted homes and businesses during their six-month crimewave up to April last year.
The court heard they used machetes, hammers and a serrated Rambo knife to threaten victims and on one occasion bizarrely took another girl’s teeth.
At a raid of a cottage in Clent, Worcs., two envelopes intended for the ‘Tooth Fairy’ containing the homeowner’s daughter’s milk teeth were stolen.
Mr Duck said: ‘The defendants are a group of organised criminals. Between October 2018 and April 2019 they committed a series of armed robberies and burglaries at commercial and residential premises.’
He said they used ‘serious violence’ which escalated over time.
They went to significant lengths to disguise themselves and chose vulnerable targets such as small stores which had a limited amount of staff, Mr Duck said.
They arrived in stolen cars which were used to ‘get away at the fastest speed possible’.
Mr Duck said: ‘They arrived mob-handed, conspicuously armed with knives, making a lot of noise and terrifying those they encountered.’
They raided safes and cashpoints.
The first shop targeted was a One Stop in Bristol Road North, Northfield, on October 18. They made off with £7,800 after wielding a hammer, knife and crow bar and workers to the back of the premises.
The gang also netted around £11,000 after terrorising two employees at the Barnt Green Inn pub and snatched £60,000-worth of mobiles from a phone shop where staff were threatened.
Saddler was arrested following a struggle with police after a raid on a Carphone Warehouse.
But that did not deter the close knit team, who attacked a Tesco Express in Northfield armed themselves with weapons including a gun.
Referring to the attack on Gray’s home, Judge Richard Bond said: ‘This property was deliberately targeted by you because of who lived there.
‘Jones made inquiries on the internet about the person.
‘You believed there would be rich pickings at the property. You were targeting high-value goods.
‘Miss Hickman could not have been more vulnerable in her own home.
‘She bravely gave evidence and it is difficult to forget the obvious terror she felt when confronted by three masked men in her bedroom.
‘She was traumatised by what happened and has moved out of the house.’
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