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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2006, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Burglars sentenced for 2m raid
Gerrard O'Leary
O'Leary was arrested three days after the raid
A "prolific" burglar and a 15-year-old boy who carried out a 2m raid at a north London mansion have been jailed.

Gerrard O'Leary, 23, and his teenage accomplice, who cannot be named, targeted the home of a wealthy couple in The Bishops Avenue, East Finchley.

Harrow Crown Court heard the pair stole jewellery, cash and luxury cars.

O'Leary, of Cricklewood, north-west London, was jailed for seven years. The boy was detained for two years. Both admitted conspiracy to burgle.

O'Leary, a convicted burglar, also asked for three other large burglaries, committed in the months leading up to the raid in January, to be taken into consideration.

Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Alan Greenwood said: "It must never be forgotten... burglary is a violation and causes insecurity even where the victims are absent from their home at the time."

Top of the range cars

He said: "You are a professional burglar and must be deterred as far as possible from committing offences in the future."

The court heard the pair smashed their way into the property using a spade, stealing a safe containing about 1.6m in jewellery, property and 100,000 in foreign currencies.

A 350,000 Mercedes McLaren car and a 50,000 Lexus were also stolen.

More than 1m worth of cash and property taken from the home of Russians Uri and Natalia Chliaifchtein, who were on holiday in South America at the time, has never been recovered.

Det Con Reg Pickering, who led the case, said: "This group were prolific and a sentence will prevent hundreds of houses being burgled by this team if they had been allowed to continue."

Keys found in garden

O'Leary's sister Louise, 29, and John Sheehan, 42, both of Cricklewood, north-west London, were each jailed for four years after admitting to handling stolen goods.

Ms O'Leary allowed her home to be used as a safe house for around 100,000 worth of currency and jewellery which was hidden in socks, vases and drawers.

Keys to the stolen cars were found hidden in her garden.

A 16-year-old who pleaded guilty to the same charge was sentenced to an 18-month detention and training order.

Valerie Bennett, 19, also of Cricklewood, admitted being given a stolen necklace by O'Leary, who was her boyfriend. She was given a one-month sentence suspended for 12 months.

A third man, who helped carry out the burglary, has never been caught.




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