A star ice hockey player who burgled his friend’s home stealing almost £30,000 worth of designer goods was been jailed for two years at Lincoln Crown Court yesterday (Friday, July 1).
James Morgan, a former Peterborough Phantoms player and Great Britain international who now runs his family butchery business, carried out the raid while high on drink and drugs.
The court was told that Morgan, together with another unidentified man, smashed their way into the home of James Bushell in Deeping St James, before making off with almost £30,000 worth of property.
Phil Howes, prosecuting, said that James Bushell was a friend of Morgan and had previously loaned Morgan £1,000 to help him out.
But while Mr Bushell was staying at a girlfriend’s house, Morgan and his accomplice staged the burglary in broad daylight.
Mr Howes said: “Morgan was one of two offenders. The burglary was carried out whilst the defendant was under the influence of drink and drugs.
“James Bushell returned to find he had been the victim of a burglary. The intruders had forced entry through the conservatory door. A glass panel was smashed. There was an untidy search and trashing of the property.
“He went through his property to find a substantial amount was missing including 30 pairs of designer sunglasses, a safe, and designer watches. His passport and cash together with further watches were stolen one of which was a 21st birthday present.”
Neighbours later reported seeing two men call at the house at lunchtime and leave carrying a box and a laundry basket.
Mr Howes said: “They got into a car and drove away. The vehicle had stolen number plates. The vehicle the plates had come from was dumped around the corner from the defendant’s sister’s home.
“Mr Bushell in times past had given the defendant some money to help. There was a loan and Mr Bushell had been texting the defendant for the return of that debt very closely before this took place.”
Morgan later handed himself in to police and confessed to what he had done but refused to identify his accomplice.
Morgan, 34, of West End Road, Maxey, admitted burglary on March 21, 2015.
Judge Michael Heath, passing sentence, told him: “You knew the victim of the burglary. He had offered you a kindness by loaning you some money and you repaid that kindness by burgling his house when he was away.
“This is so serious that the only sentence I can justify for it is a custodial sentence.”
The Judge ordered the confiscation of £28,016 of Morgan’s assets with the money to be used to pay compensation to Mr Bushell.
David Bentley, defending, said that in the 15 months since the burglary Morgan has matured and, due to his father’s ill-health, has been running the family business.
Mr Bentley said: “He has had difficulty with alcohol and drugs in the past. He has been to rehab. He is a different man.
“He is terrified of going to prison. He is sorry for what he has done to his former friend. This was a terrible mistake.”