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Knife-carrying burglar jailed for 28 months after South Holland couple showed 'remarkable bravery' to overpower him until police arrived at their home

By Spalding Reporter

A South Holland couple have been praised for their "remarkable bravery" after they sat on a violent burglar while waiting for police to arrive.

Former railway worker John Headington and his wife Susan managed to hold intruder Robert Barnes (28) for several minutes, despite him having a metal butter knife in the front pocket of his jacket.

A judge at Lincoln Crown Court was told that Barnes had used a brick to smash his way into the property while the couple were asleep.

Robert Charles Barnes, of no fixed address. Photo supplied.
Robert Charles Barnes, of no fixed address. Photo supplied.

Barnes, of no fixed address, admitted carrying out the burglary on November 20, 2018, and a second charge of possessing a bladed article.

Judge Simon Hirst today sentenced Barnes to two years' imprisonment for the burglary and an extra four months for the knife offence.

Andrew Scott, prosecuting, said Mrs Headington was woken at 1am by the sound of Barnes breaking in through their kitchen door.

Court news.
Court news.

She had seen the light on in an upstairs room where her retired husband kept his prized model railway collection and decided to ring the police.

Meanwhile, Mr Headington, who has had two hip replacements, got Barnes in a bear hug as he emerged from the room carrying some of his most valuable model trains.

Mr Scott said: ""Barnes barged past Mr Headington who fell backwards against the landing wall.

"As Barnes continued down the stairs, he ripped the phone from Mrs Headington but then fell down and rolled on to the floor near some cupboards.

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.

"Mrs Headington sat on Barnes and was joined by her husband who had blood on his arm.

"Mr Headington also sat on Barnes and they remained on top of him until the police arrived."

Barnes was found to be drunk and told officers he had to commit the burglary to survive because he was homeless.

A metal butter knife and some of Mr Headington's train collection were recovered from Barnes on his arrest.

Court news.
Court news.

During interview Barnes claimed to have no memory of the burglary after drinking a litre of vodka and whisky.

The court heard Barnes had previous convictions for obstructing a police officer, possessing criminal property and supplying cannabis.

The court also heard moving victim impact statements from Mr and Mrs Headington which were read out during the hearing.

Mr Scott said: "Mr Headington is a lifelong railway worker and since his retirement, he has expressed his affection for his job through two model railways in his home.

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.

"Four of the engines taken in the burglary were valued at £500 and five of the carriages at £200.

"The engines were of particular sentimental value as they were models of trains Mr Headington worked on as a young lad.

"Mr Headington has sought an expert to examine the damage but has been told the parts cannot be replaced which has left him heartbroken.

"Mrs Headington says the couple were both injured during the confrontation and now struggle to sleep."

Court news.
Court news.

Passing sentence, Judge Hirst described the couple's bravery as remarkable.

The judge told Barnes: "Mr and Mrs Headington must have been terrified by the presence of you in their home, purporting violence against them.

"They have behaved with remarkable bravery and it is a testimony to them that they managed to hold you until the arrival of the police."

"The occupants were at home where you took highly sentimental items and damaged them beyond repair.

Lincoln Crown Court.
Lincoln Crown Court.

"Violence was used against the Headingtons and although it is right to say that it was not punches, you barged past an 85-year-old man.

"People who carry knives, even if they are not produced when committing a burglary, must receive a consecutive sentence of imprisonment."

Neil Sands, mitigating for Barnes, said he did not punch or kick his victims.

"This was a man who was clearly very drunk," Mr Sands added.

Court news.
Court news.


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