Essex and Suffolk school laptop thefts: Trio to pay £1

Liam Cook, Christopher Kerr and Francis Wilding Image copyright Suffolk Police
Image caption Liam Cook (left), Christopher Kerr (centre) and Francis Wilding admitted conspiracy and now have to pay £1 each

Three men who stole over 250 laptops and caused damage worth £200,000 at schools across Essex and Suffolk have been ordered to pay back just £1 each.

The burglaries happened at 37 primary and secondary schools between August 2012 and May last year.

The three men were jailed in July at Ipswich Crown Court.

They were ordered to repay the sum at a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing at the same court.

Francis Wilding, 22, of Broadway, Jaywick near Clacton, admitted stealing from 28 schools and was jailed for 64 months.

Christopher Kerr, 26, of Halstead Road, Kirby Cross near Frinton admitted his part in 15 burglaries and was jailed for 64 months.

Liam Cook, 26, of Frinton Road, Kirby Cross was given 40 months after admitting five raids.

'Other culprits'

At the latest hearing, the court heard the men had each benefitted to the sum of £60,000 as a result of their crimes.

However, it was ruled that each only had £1 which was "recoverable".

A Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) spokeswoman said: "The CPS could revisit the case to try and recover more money under the Proceeds of Crime Act if it believed the three had more assets in the future."

The largest burglary was at Kersey Primary near Hadleigh, Suffolk in April 2013, when 28 laptops valued at £32,940 were stolen and a window was broken costing £1,000.

Locations of Suffolk schools where thefts happened:

  • Bardwell, Bentley, Bramfield, Easton, Great Barton, Kersey, Monks Eleigh, Moulton, Risby, Rougham, Stoke Ash, Witnesham

Locations of Essex schools where thefts happened:

  • Ardleigh, Bradfield, Bulmer, Chelmsford, Clacton, Colchester, Dedham, Fordham, Great Bentley, Great Bromley, Langham, Lawford, Messing, Mountnessing, Rayne, Rowhedge, Rivenhall, Shalford, Tendring, Weeley, Woodham Walter

Police said a total of 58 school burglaries were being investigated, no laptops had been recovered and they were still seeking other culprits.

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