Masked gang member who terrorised Wigan couple is jailed

A member of a masked gang who terrorised a Wigan couple and ransacked their home has been put behind bars for four years.

A Bolton judge heard that career criminal Craig Brightwell was snared because he was cut himself and left blood at the scene before he and his accomplices fled with a motocross bike, laptop, iPhone and a set of van keys.

Bolton Crown Court

Bolton Crown Court

The crown court hearing was told that the victims were at home in Margaret Street, Springfield, last December 13 when there was a knock at the door at midnight and they answered it to find someone on the doorstep apparently trying to deliver a Chinese takeaway that they hadn’t ordered.

The caller appeared to go away but, short time later, there was another very faint knock on the door and then the front window of the property exploded inwards as it was shattered with a makeshift missile.

The male occupant ran downstairs to be confronted by up to six men wearing balaclavas who had broken down the front door and burst in.

The woman heard the shouting as they ran upstairs, after which gang members confronted her in the bedroom and snatched her iPhone.

The terrified victims then fled the house and, in their absence, the hearing was told it was “essentially turned over”, with a number of items stolen including the Honda CRF 250cc motocross bike valued at £3,500 and the £200 laptop.

The victims also faced a repair bill for the window and door.

Forensic examination of the property found blood on the wall halfway up the stairs and a DNA test linked it to Brightwell, who was already well known to police with 16 previous convictions for 32 offences.

The 48-year-old of Beechcroft Avenue, Breightmet, Bolton, pleaded guilty to the house-break.

He had also been charged with another burglary at a Poundbakery shop on Darwen Road, in Bromley Cross, Bolton, on September 25, but no evidence was offered by the prosecution.

Brightwell is the only member of the Margaret Street gang to face justice.