AN investment consultant has told of the devastation caused to his seriously ill wife by burglars who raided his Cotswolds home and stole his new £58,000 Audi car – on the day she had a crucial appointment with a cancer specialist.
Wendy Hiard, aged 58, who has advanced ovarian cancer, has been shielded from Covid-19 at home near Chipping Campden because her treatment has suppressed her immune system, Gloucester Crown Court was told.
But instead of having a calm and quiet morning on April 6 to prepare for her appointment with her oncologist she had her home invaded by burglars, then visited by the police, locksmiths and others who needed to attend in the aftermath of the raid, said husband Michael Hiard.
“No one should have been near our house because she is shielded as one of the most vulnerable people in the Covid-19 crisis,” he told the court in a victim impact statement.
“The psychological impact of the break-in has grown on her in the weeks since.
“These intruders destroyed in an instant the idea that everyone’s home is safe and secure.
“It was three and a half years ago that my 58 year old wife was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. She was handed a fairly effective death sentence.
“On April 6 we had an appointment with her oncologist. The treatment was no longer controlling her cancer and was decimating her red cell count.
“On that morning we should have been sat quietly contemplating the consultation she was about to have, including getting the results of a scan to show how far her cancer had advanced.
“Instead, she was quarantined in her bedroom while I was dealing with the police and locksmith and the burglar alarm technician. No one should have been near the house because of her condition.”
Appearing before the judge via video link from his remand prison was Adrian Peach, 32, of Stone Avenue, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, who admitted dishonestly handling Mr Hiard’s stolen Audi RS Q3 with the personalised number plate H1 ARD.
The court heard Peach had been hired for £200 by the burglars to drive the vehicle from Mr Hiard’s home to a hiding place on the Deykin Industrial Estate in Deykin Avenue, Birmingham.
But the new car, bought last December, was quickly found thanks to Mr Hiard’s Audi tracking app and police recovered it, hidden behind crates and pallets the next day, said prosecutor Naomi Aylwin.
CCTV showed Peach and another man, Daniel McGonnell, 30, of Brownfield Road, Shard End, Birmingham, leaving it in its hiding place, she said.
McGonnell also admitted handling the stolen car but was dealt with at an earlier hearing at Cheltenham Magistrates Court where he was sentenced to a 12-month community order with 140 hours of unpaid work, the prosecutor said.
Ms Aylwin said Peach has made seven previous court appearances for 18 offences and received an eight-year jail term in 2017 for a post office burglary in Stourbridge. He had been released in December last year on licence.
Anthony Bell, defending, said “He trained as an auto electrician in prison and on release he set up a business. He was making a good start to that business when coronavirus hit.
“The lockdown that followed was catastrophic. Work dried up and with it the money that he was earning to pay the bills at home. In those circumstances, he was hired to drive a vehicle from A to B for £200. He regrets that at the time he saw no alternative but to take that job.
“Mr Hiard’s victim personal statement was read to him by his solicitor – he had no understanding of the personal circumstances of Mr and Mrs Hiard and he feels very sorry for them. He accepts he has no one to blame but himself.”
Jailing Peach for three years four months, Judge Ian Lawrie told him: “I hope you took on board the extremely articulate and moving victim statement and the personal circumstances of the victim and his partner.
“You were, of course, not aware that the victim’s wife was suffering from cancer but we now have an insight into the harm and distress you caused them.”