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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 December 2006, 11:56 GMT
Mersey football thief is jailed
Jerzy Dudek
Dudek's Champions League winner's medal was taken
A man who pleaded guilty to breaking into the homes of six footballers has been jailed at Liverpool Crown Court.

James Birch, 20, from Tuebrook, Liverpool, admitted breaking into the home of Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek in Caldy, Merseyside, in June.

He also pleaded guilty to a second burglary, and asked the court to take into account seven more - five at the homes of other Premiership stars.

Birch was sentenced to two and a half years in a Young Offenders Institution.

Porsche car

The break-ins happened between June and October, when the footballers were playing in the UK or on international duty.

The victims were Liverpool's Peter Crouch, Daniel Agger and on-loan Florent Sinama-Pongolle, and Everton's Tony Hibbert and Andy Van der Meyde.

It was claimed that Birch, of Craigs Road in Tuebrook did not deliberately target Dudek, but chose his house by coincidence.

After breaking through a patio door he stole memorabilia including Dudek's Champions League winner's medal and World Cup finals shirt, as well as jewellery and a Porsche car.

From Crouch's Cheshire home he stole an Aston Martin car, football memorabilia and champagne worth a total of 200,000.

From Daniel Agger's Wirral home he took two vehicles and jewellery, while Sinama-Pongolle lost jewellery and memorabilia from his Cheshire home.

Blues defender Hibbert lost jewellery and electrical goods worth 70,000 from his Merseyside home.

Birch also stole a Ferrari and Mini car from Van der Meyde's home in Bromborough, Wirral, as well as valuables and a pedigree Dogue de Bordeaux puppy, named Mac. The dog was later returned after an appeal.

Man charged over football thefts
09 Oct 06 |  Merseyside

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