Members of a gang which carried out scores of "professionally planned and organised" burglaries across south west Wales have been jailed for their crimes.

The group used a series of stolen cars running on cloned number plates, used weapons to threatened and intimidated witnesses or others who crossed their path, and used bleach to destroy forensic evidence.

There target was mainly jewellery, and in one break-in alone - carried out in Skewen - they got away with gold items worth £70,000

Sending them down, a judge at Swansea Crown Court told them the seriousness of the crime was not so much in the simple monetary value of items stolen but in the "violation" of victims' homes, and the loss of articles with sentimental value.

Over a six month period Kieran Joyce, aged 28, Patrick Joyce, aged 21, Daniel Joyce, aged 36, William Joyce, 24, and a youth who cannot be named because of his age conspired together to carry out scores of burglaries across Llanelli , Swansea, the Swansea Vally, Neath , the Afan Valley, Port Talbot , Porthcawl and Maesteg between July 2018 and January 2019.

It is believed others were also involved but they have not yet been brought to justice.

The gang used stolen cars on cloned or stolen number plates to get to and from their target properties, often carrying out half-a-dozen or more in a single day.

While some of the group stayed in the car to act as lookout and getaway driver, the others would smash their way into the houses, usually via a rear door or window.

Once inside they would often ransack the property looking primarily for gold jewellery - other items such as electrical goods were rarely taken. The booty was often put into pillow cases for ease of transportation.

On a number of occasions bleach or other cleaning products were sprayed on door handles and light switches to try to frustrate any subsequent forensic investigation.

While many of the houses were empty when they raided, they did on occasions break into houses while the occupants were at home. The court heard that on one occasion terrified children had to lock themselves into the bathroom while the gang ransacked their home.

If the burglars encountered neighbours or other witnesses as they fled they would threaten them by brandishing screwdrivers, baseball bats or other weapons, or intimidate them with gestures such as making a gun with a hand.

The police investigation into the spree - codename Operation Timmia - led to officers mounting a pre-dawn raid at the travellers site on Mill Stream Way in Swansea Vale in January this year.

At the site items stolen in nine different burglaries were recovered as well as, from one caravan, a bundle of thousands of pounds in case hidden in a compartment under a false floor.

Police also found two of the caravans themselves had been stolen.

Very little of the jewellery has ever been recovered.

Kieran Joyce, of Mynells Gorse travellers site, Golf Course Lane, Leicester, Patrick Joyce, of HMP Onley, Northamptonshire, William Joyce, of HMP Swansea, Daniel Joyce, of Mill Stream Way travellers site, Swansea Vale, Swansea, and the teenager who cannot be named were all convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary following a lengthy trial at Swansea Crown Court.

Kieran Joyce
Kieran Joyce
Patrick Joyce
Patrick Joyce
William Joyce
William Joyce
Daniel Joyce
Daniel Joyce

Two defendants who had been accused of being part of the conspiracy - Terrence Casey, aged 20, of Mynells Gorse travellers site, Golf Course Lane, Leicester, 40-year-old James Joyce, of Llangyfelach, Road, Brynhyfryd,  Swansea - were found not guilty by the jury.

Two other defendants were convicted of handling stolen goods in relation to items taken during the burglaries - Mary Connors, aged 23, of Rhossilly Avenue, Rumney,  Cardiff  , and Christine Joyce, aged 59, of Mill Stream Way travellers site, Swansea Vale, Swansea. Kieran Joseph Joyce, aged 59, of Mill Stream Way travellers site, Swansea Vale, Swansea, was acquitted of the same charge.

July 25, 2018

Plas Gwernfadog Drive, Ynysforgan. Burglary. Four males used a hammer to smash a glass panel in a door and gain entry. An untidy search was made. Jewellery and watches were stolen.

August 2

Maes y Coed, Morriston. Burglary. A uPVC door was forced, and jewellery stolen. Twynybedw Road, Clydach. Four jewellery boxes, and watches taken.

August 3

Dinas Street, Plasmarl, Swansea. Burglary. Two males in balaclavas forced entry through a door. An untidy search was made of rooms. A grey BMW was seen driving “at speed” in the area. Sometime before the burglary the householder had a fridge removed by a man with an Irish accent who he knew to live on the Mill Stream Way site.

Whittington Terrace, Gorseinon. Attempted burglary. Two makes with white scarves around their faces tried to burgle property. They ran from scene to a grey BWM.

Llys y Coed, Ynystawe. Burglary. A white man wearing a balaclava was seen in the property by the homeowner who locked herself in the bathroom and called police.

August 4

Wheatley Avenue, Sandfields, Port Talbot. Attempted burglary. Men wearing face coverings were seen running from the property and climbing over a fence into the neighbouring hospital grounds. One of the men was carrying a crowbar.

Gwernllwynchwyth Road, Llansamlet. Burglary. CCTV shows five men in a grey BMW arriving at the property. A claw hammer was used to gain entry.

Llys y Graig, Morriston.  Burglary. Glass door panel smashed, and an untidy search made. Louis Vuitton bag stolen.

August 7

Parc Onen, Skewen. Burglary. Front door forced and £70,000 worth of jewellery stolen.

August 8

Afan Court, Skewen. Attempted burglary. BWM 3-series seen in the area, and men with their faces covered seen trying the house door.

Lon Bryn Awel, Llansamlet. Burglary. Untidy search made, £3,600 in cash stolen along with a Tag Heuer watch. Audio from CCTV recorded the sound of Irish accents.

Between August 8 and 11

Clasemont Road, Morriston. Burglary. Untidy search made, £12,000 worth of jewellery taken.

August 9

Stadwen Road, Llansamlet. Burglary. Cleaning products sprayed around the property.

Birchgrove Road, Glais. Burglary. An untidy search was made, and a “large quantity” of jewellery stolen.

Llanllienwen Road, Llansamlet. Burglary. Grey BMW seen in the area. Two children in the property shut themselves in the bathroom

Crymlyn Gardens, Skewen. Burglary. Three men with their faces covered were seen running from the house. Tag Heuer watch stolen.

Drummau Road, Skewen. Burglary. Untidy search made, jewellery stolen.

Between August 8 and 11

Clasemont Road, Morriston. Burglary. Untidy search made, £12,000 worth of jewellery taken.

Between September 28 and 30

Capel Road, Clydach Mill Race, Neath Abbey. Burglary. A “large quantity” of jewellery stolen, along with a white Audi A5 car.

September 29

Eppynt Road, Penlan, Swansea. Burglary. Untidy search made, two males seen running from property.

Clydach Road, Ynysforgan. Pant y Helyg, Fforestfach. Attempted burglary

September 30

Parkhill Terrace, Treboeth, Swansea. Burglary. Euros 1,000 and car keys stolen.

Cwrt Cilmeri, Morriston. Burglary.

October 2

Gwernfadog Road, Morriston. Burglary.

Heol y Deri, Cwmrhydyceirw. Burglary.

 Heol Llwynon, Caewern, Neath. Burglary £1,000 cash stolen

Pen yr Heol, Skewen. Attempted burglary. Two men seen cutting and kicking a glass panel before running off after a dog barked.

Walters Road, Llansamlet. Attempted  burglary. Voices heard outside property.

October 3

Midland Place, Llansamlet. Burglary. Untidy search made, passports and money stolen. The bedroom of the occupants’ son, largely untouched since his death in 2009, was searched. A blue Fiesta on cloned plates seen on street

Ocean View, Jersey Marine. Burglary. Keys to a Jaguar car stolen.

Pen-y-cae, Port Talbot. The Highlands, Skewen. Burglary. Jewellery stolen. Ford Fiesta seen outside.

Averil Vivian Gardens, Sketty, Swansea. Burglary. Rear door smashed, neighbours saw lights in an upstairs room. A burglar alarm sounds, and people run from the house to a waiting Ford Fiesta. A neighbour challenges the driver of the car, and is threatened with the words: “Come on then, I will stab you.” The car drives off.

Drummau Road, Skewen. Burglary.

Between September 28 and October 4

Bethel Road, Llansamlet. Burglary. Jewellery stolen.

October 17

Park Road, Clydach. Burglary. Victim was aged 81. Untidy search made of the property. As the burglars left the property one of the men made a “gun gesture” with his hand to a witness.

Between October 28 and 30

Tygwyn Road, Clydach. Attempted burglary.

October 29

Tygwyn Road, Clydach. Attempted burglary.

Pentremalwed Road, Morriston. Burglary.

Bishop’s Walk, Morriston. Burglary. £8,000-worth of jewellery taken along with cash from a child’s money box. Officers noted a “strong smell of bleach” in the property.

October 30

Delffordd, Rhos, Pontardawe. Burglary. Two men seen running from property to a waiting white Audi car which left “at speed”.

November 2

Lon Hir, Pontardawe. Burglary. Occupants saw white Audi parked opposite house when they got home. The car sounded its horn as they approached and two men ran from the property and got in.

Penshannel, Skewen. Burglary. Untidy search made.

Pine View, Cwmavon. Burglary.

Western Avenue, Sandfields, Port Talbot. Burglary. Safe containing £6,000 stolen along with designer watch and car keys. White Audi car seen in the area.

Graig Road, Morriston. Burglary. Untidy search made. “Large quantity” of jewellery stolen along with watches, pillow cases, and a bottle of Champagne.

Between December 25 and 28

Fenbrook Close, Aberavon. Burglary. Untidy search. Jewellery stolen including gold and diamond eternity ring.

Farm Drive, Port Talbot. Burglary. £15,000-worth of jewellery stolen and £5,000 cash

December 29

Bonymaen Road, Bonymaen. Burglary.

Pentrechwyth Road, Pentrechwyth. Burglary.

Heol Fach, Treboeth, Swansea. Burglary. £5,000-worth of jewellery stolen along with a black VW Golf R.

Crymlyn Parc, Skewen. Burglary. 80-year-old homeowner was present but asleep.

Austin Close, Porthcawl. Attempted burglary. Shiny black VW Golf seen nearby. Three men with faces covered seen running from property.

Austin Close, Porthcawl. Burglary.

New Road, Porthcawl. Burglary. Untidy search. Jewellery stolen.

New Road, Porthcawl. Attempted burglary.

Prince Road, Kenfig Hill. Attempted burglary. Three men seen to run from property and get into black car.

Between December 17 and 29

Heol Mabon, Cwmavon. Burglary. £10,000-worth of jewellery stolen.

December 29

West Street, Aberkenfig. Burglary.

Neath Road, Maesteg. Burglary.

Maesydderwen, Llangennech, Llanelli. Burglary.

Between December 29 and 30

Heol Mabon, Cwmavon. Attempted burglary. 86-year-old victim. “Extensive damage” done to uPVC door.

St David’s Mews, Waun Bont Road, Kenfig Hill. Burglary. Large quantity of jewellery stolen.

Between December 27 and 29

Heol y Parc, Cwmavon. Burglary. £3,000-worth of jewellery stolen.

December 30

School Road, Llanelli. Burglary. Jewellery stolen.

Maesydderwen, Llangennech, Llanelli. Burglary.

Pemberton Lane, Llanelli. Burglary.

January 9, 2019

Sybil Street, Clydach. Burglary.

Penrhiw Road, Morriston. Burglary.

Waun Gron Road, Treboeth, Swansea. Burglary. Untidy search. “Large quantity” of gold jewellery stolen. Cleaning products were applied to door handles and light switches.

Twynybedw Road, Clydach. Attempted burglary. 80-year-old victim heard noises outside the house and males with Irish accents talking and swearing. The males ran to a waiting black car.

Heol Fryn, Birchgrove, Swansea. Burglary. Untidy search. £700 in cash, jewellery, a 32in TV, and Bose sound system stolen.

Gwysfa Road, Ynystawe. Burglary. Audi Q3 car stolen.

Saunders Way, Sketty, Swansea. Burglary. VW Golf car stolen.

Between January 7 and 10

Heol Nant Bran, Birchgrove. Burglary.

January 10

Royal Oak Road, Blackpill, Swansea. Burglary.

New Quarr Road, Treboeth, Swansea. Burglary. “Large quantity” of jewellery stolen along with £1,500 cash.

Prosecution barrister Ian Wright read out a series of victim impact statements from some of those the gang burgled - all referred to the feelings of insecurity and fear caused by having strangers breaking into their homes, and of the pain of losing items of great sentimental or family value to the thieves. Many of the victims said they have now installed CCTV systems, alarms, and new locks, and one has ever surrounded his garden with barbed wire. Some of the victims reported being too scared to leave their homes unoccupied, while one or two have actually moved house such is their distress at what happened.

Many of the victims were in their 80s, and the court heard the raids has had a profound impact on their lives.

Barristers for the five conspirators all said their clients were sorry for what they had done, and wanted to turn their lives around.

Lawrence Henderson, for Kieran Joyce, said there was little evidence his client had entered properties and "it is more likely he was acting as driver".

In a letter to the court the dad-of-four said he was "completely ashamed of himself" and after taking courses in prison which serving the inevitable sentence he faced intends to "return to my family and community as a better man".

Andrew Evans for Daniel Joyce said an outreach worker for Swansea Council had described his client as a "responsible, caring family man".

The advocate said Joyce wanted to "ensure his children take a different path in life than he did".

Ashanti-Jade Walton, for William Joyce, said her client had been taken out of school at the age of 11 and "thrown into helping the family business".

The court heard the defendant is currently serving a three sentence for other burgalries.

Hywel Davies, for the youth, said his client had been taking courses while in custody awaiting sentencing, and wanted to take more in the future, adding he had the "intelligence and drive" to change his life.

David Leithley, for Christine Joyce, said his client fell to be sentenced for handling one stolen earring - a Pandora earring stolen from a burglary in Llanelli which she was wearing when police interviewed her - while Kate Williams for Mary Kate Connors said he client was a mother of three young children.

Judge Keith Thomas said burglaries were always treated serious not just because of any monetary value of goods stolen but because of the "sense of violation and insecurity" break-ins cause, and because often items of great sentimental value were taken.

The judge described the spree of burglaries committed by the five males as "professionally planned and organised.

He said he was satisfied that between them, the five defendants were responsible for the "vast majority" of the burglaries included in the conspiracy, though he said he accepted the evidence that others were also involved.

Judge Thomas said there was evidence Kieran Joyce was connected to burglaries carried out throughout the six month conspiracy, and he sentenced him to 10 years.

Patrick and William Joyce were both sentenced to eight years, while Daniel Joyce was sentenced to six years.

The youth - who the judge described as a an "enthusiastic burglar" was sentenced to four years detention.

The adult defendants will serve half their sentences in prison before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

Christine Joyce and Connors were each made the subject of 12 month community order with a 200 hours of unpaid work.

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Speaking after the sentencing South Wales Police superintendent Cath Larkman said: "These burglaries had a significant impact on their victims many of whom were vulnerable. These burglars smashed their way into people’s homes not caring if the occupants were home or not.

"No stone would be left unturned in investigating these offences and bringing the offenders to justice.

"We set up a dedicated operation team called Operation Timmia who relentlessly investigated these offences.

"While we recognise nothing can undo that these burglaries have taken place and the significant impact on these victims, we do hope the actions we took and today’s sentences do provide some comfort to them that justice has been done."