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Gang jailed for Fleetwood Town FC burglary

Highbury Stadium, home of Fleetwood Town FC, was burgled last year.

Highbury Stadium, home of Fleetwood Town FC, was burgled last year.

The owner of Fleetwood Town FC has today said three men jailed for a total of 52 months for their role in a daring burglary at the club got “what they deserve”.

The trio were involved in a planned raid of the club’s Highbury Stadium following a home game in January last year that saw thousands of pounds of equipment stolen.

Stephen Sumner, 29, of Chatsworth Avenue, Fleetwood, and Paul Palin, of Derby Road, Blackburn, were both given lengthy jail terms after admitting to burglary.

Palin will serve 28 months behind bars, while Sumner has had a 16-month term added to the jail sentence he is currently serving for a previous offence.

Ben O’Connor, 20, of Mount Street, Fleetwood, was given eight months in a young offenders’ institute for receiving stolen goods after admitting helping to open one of the safes taken during the raid.

A fourth man, Paul Stafford, 25, of Brathay Place, Fleetwood, avoided jail after his six-month sentence for receiving stolen goods was suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to carry out 80 hours unpaid work in the community.

Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley said: “We would like to thank the police involved in catching these criminals.

“It was a particularly unpleasant crime on a football club that is the central point of the local community.

“It is reassuring to everybody to know these people are behind bars – I think it is what they deserve.”

O’Connor and Stafford had both been charged with burglary but no evidence was offered by the prosecution.

The burglary took place overnight on January 26 last year after the team’s home game against Oxford United.

The thieves used an angle-grinder, crowbar and a hammer to smash through a perimeter gate at the football ground.

They then searched through several rooms, before leaving with two safes, an iPad and a 42-inch television that all belonged to the club.
Det Con Steve Montgomery, of Fleetwood CID, who led the investigation into the burglary, said: “We are extremely pleased with this and I spoke to (club chairman) Andy Pilley and he was also very happy with the outcome.

“We are obviously happy we have got a result for the football club and for the wider community.”
In November, Sumner and Palin appeared at Preston Crown Court and admitted burglary. However, O’Connor and Stafford pleaded not guilty, only to admit to receiving stolen property when they appeared in court in February, on the day they were due to stand trial.

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