Man jailed for house invasion

Matthew Barker
Matthew Barker

A man from Brackley has been jailed for seven years and three months after forcing his way into the home of a 70-year-old man in Towcester while armed with a hammer.

Having entered a guilty plea on a ‘full fact basis’ Matthew Barker, 40, of Manor Road, was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court on Thursday last week. But he was cleared of possessing a firearm and actual bodily harm.

At around 9.30am on Saturday, May 26, he knocked on the door of retired builder Winston Blackwell in Jenkinson Road, Towcester wearing a high-visibility jacket.

The court heard Barker demanded £500 from Mr Blackwell before raising the hammer as he stepped forward.

The pair struggled, and after they fell to the ground Barker was able to get away and lock himself inside the house.

As Mr Blackwell raised the alarm with neighbours Barker used keys to open a secure gun cabinet. When Mr Blackwell returned via the back door he was confronted with Barker holding a .22 rifle. He was also carrying the pensioner’s cash box containing his savings including £29,000 of premium bonds, £11,000 of share certificates, £400 cash and ammunition for the rifle.

Alex Bull, prosecuting, said: “The defendant pointed the rifle at Mr Blackwell and said ‘I’m 
going to shoot you’ but he knew it was not loaded and grabbed hold of the barrel and wrestled it from his grip.”

Barker then picked up a shotgun and both men, using the barrels of the guns “as if they were baseball bats” swung at each other, causing both to break, seriously injuring Mr Blackwell’s hand.

Barker then escaped through the window and ran off into Marlowe Road, where passer-by Peter Collin-Marston attempted to 
detain him. He grabbed hold of his leg as Barker was climbing over a fence but the career criminal was able to escape and run off through neighbouring gardens. However, he was soon tracked to a house nearby and arrested.

Barker also asked for five offences to be taken into consideration including shoplifting and burglaries of the town hall, the Co-op store and a home in Towcester.

Sentencing, Judge Rupert Mayo said: “You have an unenviable record of previous convictions, stemming from your addiction to drugs. Most of your previous convictions relate to acquisitive crime in order to fund your habit or to pay off your drug dealers.

“You had, I am fairly sure, chosen to wear a high-visibility jacket because that gave you some element of authority but you were also holding a hammer which you used to threaten violence.

“You did not use it but achieved your aim of getting into Mr Blackwell’s bungalow.

“This is a case where you invaded Mr Blackwell’s home, displayed extreme violence and totally disregarded the sanctity of someone’s home.”

Mr Mayo also recommended that Mr Collin-Marston be given £250 from public funds in recognition of his attempts to grab hold of Barker as he was escaping from the scene by climbing over a fence.