Jail for intruders who beat victim in Bury St Edmunds flat raid

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Two men who broke into a flat and terrorised the occupant have each been jailed for five and a half years.

James Mann, 39, and James Curtis, 30, left their victim so frightened that he was forced to move away from Bury St Edmunds.

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Today Ipswich Crown Court heard that he had been beaten with a hammer and punched and Curtis had painfully chiselled a pattern on his head.

The two men thought the flat in Guildhall Street was empty when they got inside in the early hours of June 16.

Prosecutor Michael Crimp said that both the intruders and the occupant had been surprised to see each other. Mann was brandishing a hammer and Curtis a chisel.

The occupant, who had been sitting up watching a film on his computer, later told police: “I’m not a brave man. I crumbled with fear. I was not in a position to put up any kind of fight.”

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Mr Crimp said the man was forced into a bedroom and ordered to get under a duvet so he could not see what was happening.

After falling onto the bed, the man was struck near his hip with the hammer by Mann, pictured top, and subjected to repeated punches to his head, back and body. Curtis, below, had then used the chisel to painully trace a pattern on the victim’s head, said Mr Crimp.

Before leaving with an iPhone and a computer monitor, the men had made threats against their victim, telling him: “Do not call the police because you don’t know what family you are dealing with.”

Mr Crimp said the terrified victim barricaded himself inside the flat as Mann and Curtis fled but later had to walk to the police station to report the crime as his phone was one of the items stolen.

Mann, of Ipswich Street, Bury St Edmunds, and Curtis, of no fixed address, both pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary. Mann also asked for 21 other offences to be taken into consideration.

The court heard that Mann had 29 previous convictions for 74 offences while Curtis had 12 previous convictions for 36 offences.

In a statement read to the court, the victim said h had felt “scared for his life” when he found Mann and Curtis inside the flat. The man said: “I was violated. No-one should have to go through this.”

Defending, Cathy McCulloch said Mann had stopped using illegal drugs and since being on remand in prison had been working in the kitchen which had convinced him that he wanted to follow a career in baking when he was released.

The burglary had been committed at a time when Mann wanted to get money to buy drugs. He would welcome the opportunity to apologise face to face to the victim, said Ms McCulloch.

Christopher Morgan, appearing for Curtis, said his client was remorseful and had also been involved at the time with drugs and excessive alcohol consumption but was anxious to change his life.

Mr Morgan said: “He is not without hope for the future. He is a thoughtful individual at times.”

Sentencing Mann and Curtis, Mr Recorder Robert Glancy QC said the involvement of both men in using alcohol and illegal drugs was no mitigation for what was a “most serious” offence.