BURGLARS, one of whom was blasted in the leg with a shotgun following a break-in, have been jailed for more than 23 years.

The sentences were handed out today after a break-in on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border in order to steal cash and drugs.

Following their trial at Worcester Crown Court last November, jurors heard that one of the men, 30-year-old Robert Richards of Ollerton Road, Birmingham was shot in the leg by the homeowner during the burglary, which happened on October 5, 2011.

Richards, along with 26-year-old Darren Randall of Yardley Fields Road, Birmingham went to a house in Stockings Lane, Whitbourne armed with a crowbar, chisel and cable ties.

The pair broke into the property through a ground floor window while the homeowner, Malcolm White aged 63, and his partner Josephine Merrick were inside.

The court heard that White then went outside and fired a shotgun at the burglars, injuring Richards who later required part of his leg to be amputated.

While White called the police to report the break-in, Richards and Randall fled the scene before stopping in Leigh Sinton to seek help for Richards’ injury. The pair were subsequently arrested by officers in the Worcestershire village.

Richards and Randall denied aggravated burglary at the property but were found guilty by a jury last year (5 November 2012).

Sentencing the pair at Wolverhampton Crown Court today, His Honour Judge Mithani QC sentenced Richards to 10 and a half years in prison and Randall was jailed for 12 years.

Randall also received a 16 month sentence for possessing illegal ammunition and 12 months for the production of cannabis, after ammunition and drugs were found at his home address during the investigation. Those additional sentences are to run concurrently with one another, but consecutively to his time for aggravated burglary.

In total, the pair were sentenced to 23 years and 10 months and each will have to serve at least half of that time in jail before they will be considered for release on licence.

Detective Sergeant Frank Real from Hereford CID said the investigation turned out not to be as straightforward as it initially seemed: “On attending the home of White and Merrick in Whitbourne, we discovered £18,000 worth of cannabis and a number of firearms and ammunition, which White did not have licences for.

“As the investigation progressed, it became clear that the drugs and money were the motivation for the burglary, but Richards and Randall left empty handed when Richards became injured.”

White pleaded guilty to a number of firearms offences and also, the production of cannabis at Worcester Crown Court earlier in 2012. Merrick also pleaded guilty to being concerned in the production of cannabis at the same hearing. The pair will be sentenced for these offences at a later date.

Det Sgt Real added: “This was not an opportunistic burglary but a planned operation carried out by a professional criminal outfit.

“Richards and Randall spent a great deal of time planning this burglary and went to the house in Whitbourne on that evening well prepared with cable ties, balaclavas and gloves with the intention of parting Merrick and White from their possessions.

“Offences like this are extremely unusual in our force area and this has been a highly complex investigation.

“I would like to thank members of the public living in the local communities of Whitbourne and Leigh Sinton for their help and co-operation while we carried out our inquiries into this incident.”