Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Knicker-stealing Lancashire ex-mayor jailed

Ian Stafford
Ian Stafford resigned as mayor of Preesall over the underwear thefts

The ex-mayor of a Lancashire village who got "sexual kicks" from breaking into women's homes to steal underwear has been jailed for two years.

Ian Stafford, 59, who admitted three counts of burglary, resigned his post in Preesall after his arrest last year.

Preston Crown Court heard how he would creep into their bedrooms and search drawers for the underwear, before carrying out a sex act.

He was caught after one victim set up a hidden camera, catching him in the act.

The burglaries took place at buildings in Poulton-le-Fylde and Stalmine between 1 January and 26 June last year.

Stafford had been working as a part-time handyman and gardener at his victims' homes for years and was trusted with access.

The victims are relieved that the court process is now over
Det Con Steve Montgomery

But the female residents called in police after their underwear kept disappearing - one even installed a hidden camera in her bedroom.

The resulting 14-minute DVD was passed to Lancashire police and Stafford's home searched, where officers found stolen underwear marked with the women's names, the court heard.

He stole some items, while placing others back in the drawer.

Judge Heather Lloyd, who told him his actions were "bluntly revolting", sentenced Stafford, of Sandicroft Place, Preesall, to two years for each offence, to run concurrently.

'Breach of trust'

"Your private desires or fantasies which should only be your concern became public when you decided to do what you did in the homes of those who trusted you," she told him.

The court heard the victims were "embarrassed, disgusted and shocked" to discover how the man they trusted was getting his "sexual kicks".

Speaking after the hearing, Det Con Steve Montgomery, said: "This has been a distressing ordeal for the victims involved, all of whom had let Mr Stafford into their homes, trusting him to carry out maintenance.

"They certainly did not expect him to search for, and steal, their possessions. There has been a breach of their trust in a very intimate nature."

"The victims are relieved that the court process is now over."

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