Jailed in January – criminals who kicked 2021 off with prison

So we’ve blinked and another month has passed. There’s been a lot going on at Truro Crown Court this month, including a high-profile trial, a “Covid incident” which saw trials halted for a week and a large number of sentencing hearings. All aspects of life have been affected by the Covid pandemic, including the courts and the prison system.

Judges are being asked to take into account the effect of Covid on the prison system when passing sentence, and that’s resulted in a number of defendants narrowly avoiding prison, who, pre-pandemic, could have found themselves behind bars. That said, despite the fewer than usual number of defendants being jailed, there are some cases when the crime is so severe that only an immediate prison term is appropriate. Here are the criminals jailed at Truro Crown Court in January as reported at the time…

Pamela Saunders A woman smashed a wine bottle over her former best friend’s head in the middle of Truro after accusing her of sleeping with her boyfriend. Pamela Saunders, 44, then continued to punch and kick the victim after she fell to the ground.

Saunders, formerly of Truro, appeared at Truro Crown Court for sentence after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm. Prosecuting the case, Sally Daulton described how Saunders and the victim had known each other for nine years and been best friends before falling out after Saunders accused her of having sex with her boyfriend. On September 3, 2019, the victim was walking from Truro Railway Station through the city centre with her partner.

On the way to his address they passed The White Company shop where Saunders was sitting in the doorway. When Saunders saw the victim she jumped to her feet with a wine bottle and shouted “have this for knocking off my boyfriend”. Saunders, holding the bottle by the neck, smashed the bottle on the victim’s head causing it to shatter on impact.

She then went to hit the victim with the broken part and when she fell to the ground, Saunders punched her to the head repeatedly and kicked her one. The victim was taken to hospital where she was treated for a deep laceration to the eyebrow and cheek. In a victim impact statement she describes being too scared to leave the house and having to leave Truro as a result of the attack.

She has suffered permanent scarring and has partially lost mobility to her hand. You can stay up-to-date on the top news near you with CornwallLive’s FREE newsletters – find out more about our range of daily and weekly bulletins and sign up here or enter your email address at the top of the page. Sentencing Saunders, Judge Simon Carr said: “You experienced the loss of your daughter and entered into two violent relationships so used alcohol as a solution.

“The victim in this case had been your close friend for a number of years but a dispute had taken place. “On the day in question she was simply walking through an urban area when she chanced upon you. You’d been drinking heavily and had in your hand a wine bottle.

“The footage shows you, without any provocation, advancing towards her holding the bottle by the neck as a weapon. “Without warning you struck her with such force the bottle shattered. You continued to attack her on the floor and she has been left with permanent scarring.”

Judge Carr said he accepted that Saunders has showed real remorse and made strides to get her life in order before jailing her for 21 months.

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Anthony Cahill

Anthony Cahill

A crime gang member from Liverpool who ram-raided a Cornish village shop in a botched bid to steal its cashpoint was jailed for four years. Anthony Cahill, 35, was one of a quartet of masked crooks who went on an early-hours stealing spree before the smash-and-grab on the Co-Op in Kilkhampton. The group swiped heavy-duty slings from a crane hire business in Barnstaple, North Devon, then stole a pick-up truck and car from the forecourt of a dealership in Holsworthy.

They then headed to Kilkhampton, near Bude, and smashed the 4×4 Ford Ranger into the doors of the Co-Op. But the gang’s efforts to wrench the ATM free using the slings and the pick-up truck failed. They caused thousands of pounds-worth of damage to the business and pinched booze and vaping kit before fleeing in the stolen vehicles.

Cahill, of Kirby in Liverpool, admitted conspiracy to commit burglary and was yesterday (Thursday January 14) sentenced to four years in prison by judge Simon Carr at Truro Crown Court. His three accomplices remain at large and detectives are appealing for information that could help bring them to justice. The court heard Cahill was one of a criminal quartet who travelled from Liverpool to Devon to embark on the well-planned burglary spree in the early hours of 28 June 2019.

They first broke into a crane hire company’s compound on the Roundswell industrial estate in Barnstaple and took several heavy-duty slings that were locked away on the site. The gang then made their way to a car dealership on the outskirts of Holsworthy, gained entry to its garage and took the keys to a Ford Ranger pick-up and a VW Golf. After stealing the vehicles from the forecourt, they returned on foot with power tools and tried in vain to crack the business’s safe.

Police were alerted to the noise at around 2.50am but the offenders evaded officers and headed to Kilkhampton.

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They drove the pick-up truck through the front doors of the village’s Co-Op before tying the stolen slings to the cashpoint and the Ford Ranger’s rear bumper. However, their efforts to drive the 4×4 off and dislodge the bolted-down ATM failed when one of the slings snapped. The gang then tried to raid the store’s tills and cigarette counter before fleeing with a limited haul of stock.

They abandoned the Ford Ranger on the outskirts of Kilkhampton and made their way back to Liverpool. Detectives quickly linked all three burglaries and, through CCTV, forensics and the recovery of items, were able to identify potential suspects. Cahill was located and arrested in Liverpool and initially denied all knowledge of the crimes when interviewed.

Three other suspects were arrested in connection with the burglaries but were released without charge. Clifford Morgan (hospital order)

Jailed in January - criminals who kicked 2021 off with prisonClifford Morgan from Penzance

A sex pest was sentenced for the terrifying stalking of his neighbour which culminated in him masturbating in front of her whilst wearing a pair of goggles. Clifford Morgan, 33, frequently stared at his petrified neighbour, sometimes doing so wearing Star Wars or Halloween masks.

Morgan, of Penzance, appeared at Truro Crown Court for sentence having pleaded guilty to stalking. Prosecuting the case, Tom Bradnock, described how Morgan and the victim in the case had been living next door, on and off, for 10 years. By 2019 the victim was living with her partner and four children and at that stage hadn’t had any problems with Morgan, just finding him a little odd.

The two properties were separated by a chain link fence between their gardens but by May 2019 there began a concerning sequence of events. Mr Bradnock said: “Mr Morgan began to stare at her either openly, through an open back door or on occasions from behind towels hanging on the washing line. “This culminated in an incident when the victim was in her garden at 9:15pm and saw the defendant staring at her.

She went inside to get away but returned to the garden to fetch her dog. “Mr Morgan was holding his door open and then stepped forward staring at her and mouthed the words either ‘f*ck me’, ‘lick me’ or ‘rape me’. She can’t be 100% sure which but was scared and insulted so went inside and read the police.”

The victim then went inside and called the police. The matter was investigated but not taken further due to a lack of evidence. The victim and her partner then erected a six foot fence between the properties so they couldn’t see Morgan and things quietened down for several months.

However, in January 2020 the victim on various occasions saw Morgan in his garden either staring or walking around holding tools such as knives, pliers or hammers. Mr Bradnock added: “On January 30 the victim was walking to the shop with her youngest son. This took her past Mr Morgan’s front window and as she approached his net curtains moved back.

He put his face to the window and seemed to be screaming and frothing at the mouth, deranged. “On the following day she and her partner left their house and the defendant was stood on his front doorstep staring. “She dropped her partner to work and returned and got out the car with her two-year-old son.

“She noticed Mr Morgan in his doorway, wearing goggles. When he saw she noticed him he exposed his erect penis and masturbated whilst staring straight at her.” That evening the victim again noticed Morgan staring at her through a gap in the fence, this time wearing a Star Wars or Halloween mask.

When police attended Morgan’s property they found a baseball bat, a hammer, knives, a number of masks, goggles and a balaclava. A victim impact statement summarised to the court described how the victim felt violated, anxious and that Morgan’s behaviour made her skin crawl. She has since had to move house.

In mitigation, the court was told that Morgan, who has previous for sexual offending, is a paranoid schizophrenic who poses no threat when medicated. His offending was attributed to his decline in mental health. Sentencing, Judge Robert Linford said: “The victim in this case was terrified in her own home and scared to leave in case she encountered you.

“Your behaviour caused her extreme anxiety. She was terrified to the extent that she had to leave. “This was an extremely serious pattern of offending over a period of time.

“You suffer from paranoid schizophrenia and when you take medication are able to operate in a reasonable way in the community. The most appropriate way to deal with you is by a hospital order.” Morgan will now be transferred from prison to hospital to be treated.

A 25-year restraining order protecting the victim and her partner was also put in place. Mohammed Owodunni A fraudster who hacked into the accounts of Cornish businesses and stole the money of elderly and vulnerable customers was jailed.

Mohammed Owodunni, 33, was one of those responsible for the operation that Judge Simon Carr described as “complex” and “sophisticated”. Nigerian-born Owodunni, from London, appeared for sentence at Truro Crown Court after pleading guilty to five counts of money laundering and fraud. Prosecuting the case, Lee Bremridge told the court how in 2017 and 2018 five members of the public, some elderly and vulnerable, had work carried out by legitimate tradesman.

They paid deposits and other sums via bank transfers for the work, not knowing Owodunni and others had hacked into the businesses’ systems and altered the account numbers receiving the money to accounts linked to them. The money was then quickly siphoned off and layered through multiple accounts before being withdrawn. The “sinister” fraud is said to have resulted in the loss of GBP22,000 to the people paying for work they had done.

The second set of offending related to Owodunni and co-conspirators stealing peoples’ identities to obtain credit cards before making large purchases. Several of those affected by Owodunni’s crimes were in Cornwall, hence his sentencing at Truro Crown Court. When police began investigating they could see large sums of money moving through accounts linked to Owodunni without any legitimate income.

Sentencing, Judge Simon Carr said: “You took part in two complex and lengthy frauds. “The first involved hacking into the email system of legal traders and changing banking information so the customers paid money to you that was never to be seen again. It involved a significant degree of planning and sophistication.

“The second fraud was the taking of identities of people you found online and applying for credit cards and running them up until they were stopped. “These crimes shake the confidence in the internet banking system, something on which he all rely.” Judge Carr said Owodunni was prepared to rope others and even his own partner into the deceit.

Owodunni was jailed for two and a half years.

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