Sunday 22 October 2017

Judge rejects appeal by burglar who stole over €1m from Simon Cowell's house

"Those who play for high stakes can expect high sentences"

Simon Cowell
Simon Cowell
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A prolific burglar who raided the home of music mogul Simon Cowell has had an appeal against his eight-year jail sentence thrown out by judges who said society needed a break from his activities.

Darren February, 33, watched via video link from prison as three Court of Appeal judges in London warned that offenders who play for "high stakes" can expect "high sentences".

February carried out the £950,000 (€1,065,000) burglary at the X Factor supremo's home in west London in December 2015 as he and his family slept.

At an appeal hearing on Thursday, Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave and Mr Justice Turner ruled that the prison sentence handed out to February earlier this year at Isleworth Crown Court in west London was not "manifestly excessive".

During the early-hours raid he made off with two passports, watches and jewellery worth about £950,000 - but only around £136,000 (€152,000) worth was recovered.

CCTV and DNA evidence led police to February, who denied the offence.

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, announcing the decision to reject February's argument that his sentence was "too high", said he had an "appalling" record.

He was a "professional burglar", with a string of previous convictions, who targeted "high value addresses" in the upmarket London areas of Holland Park, Knightsbridge and Kensington.

February committed the burglary at the Cowell home at night when a child was present, said the judge, who added: "The occupants were at home asleep and vulnerable."

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said it was relevant to have regard, as the sentencing judge had done, to the victim impact statements made in the case. It was a domestic burglary which had a "serious effect on the occupants".

In his victim impact statement, which was read out during the Crown Court proceedings, Cowell said: "The whole incident has been very traumatic and there is a constant fear that it may be repeated and that it may be worse next time."

Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said: "In our judgment, the judge was fully entitled to find that this was a case of greater harm and exceptionally high loss."

He described February as a "professional" burglar who played for high stakes and targeted expensive London properties".

The judge concluded: "Those who play for high stakes can expect high sentences. Society needs a break from this offender's activities."

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