Terror for woman threatened by burglars with crowbars at her home near Ludlow

A terrified woman was threatened with crowbars by a pair of burglars who stole £18,000 and several pieces of jewellery from her home.

Ben Markham. Photo: West Mercia Police
Ben Markham. Photo: West Mercia Police

The woman, who lived near Ludlow, was woken up at 4am by the sound of her front door being knocked down by two hooded men – Ben Markham and an as-yet-unidentified accomplice.

Shrewsbury Crown Court heard on Tuesday that Markham, 28, and the other man entered the woman's bedroom, each wielding a crowbar, and began shouting at her: "Where is it? Where's the money?"

She was intimidated into opening her safe, where cash in the region of £18,000 to £20,000 was stored alongside several chains and rings inherited from the woman's mother, according to prosecutor Miss Suzanne Francis.

She described the incident in November last year, and the court was shown CCTV footage of the men inside the house.

The woman was seen to be disoriented, one man can be seen holding the woman around the neck with the other striking her in the ribs with a crowbar.

After the woman was coerced into opening the safe, they took her cash and jewellery and also stole the hard drive from a CCTV system and a mobile phone before leaving.

Markham, of Rose Avenue in Worcester, was identified in the following days as a suspect and tracked using mobile phone site data, before being interviewed by police.

'Constantly on edge'

Miss Francis described the impact of the burglary on the victim: "She remains exhausted, mentally and physically, at night.

"'I don't feel safe, I know there is more to come'", she read.

"'I'm constantly on edge, I will never feel safe in my own home again'."

Markham was prosecuted and pleaded guilty before the case reached trial but the second man has not been identified, the court heard.

Mr Paul Smith for the defendant said that he has been given a trusted role in the prison laundry department while in custody.

He also said the offence did not represent the most serious type of burglary, partly because of the relatively low level of violence used.

Judge Peter Barrie addressed Markham: "The two of you broke down the front door and went up to [the victim's] bedroom. You were each carrying a crowbar and took them with you into the bedroom, taking her by surprise.

"You took a quantity of jewellery, some of significant value, some of very significant emotional value to her."

He handed down a sentence of seven years and six months to Markham – that having been reduced by 25 per cent from 10 years because of his relatively early guilty plea.

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