Family's bravery sees St Leonards burglar put behind bars

A burglar who was bravely tackled by a family in their own home has been jailed for nine-and-a-half years.

Monday, 9th July 2018, 11:26 am
Updated Tuesday, 17th July 2018, 6:44 pm
Darren Van Dyke. Photo courtesy of Sussex Police SUS-180907-101207001

Police were called on the evening of February 1 this year by a woman who stated an unknown man was in her house in Sedlescombe Road South, St Leonards.

On seeing him in the hallway, she had grabbed him by the arms and shouted to her husband in a nearby room, who rushed to her aid. He managed to restrain the man while their daughter dialled 999.

The couple’s son heard the commotion and also assisted in restraining the man, and was bitten during the struggle.

At this point, police say the suspect was seen to remove a Swiss army knife from his pocket with the screwdriver blade extended, and he was disarmed to ensure he could not inflict any further injury.

He was safely restrained on the floor until police arrived at the scene, and was identified as Darren Van Dyke, 52, unemployed, of London Road, St Leonards.

He had stolen two purses and a small quantity of cash, all of which was recovered and returned to the victims.

Van Dyke was remanded in custody to appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on February 3, charged with aggravated burglary and assault, which he denied.

The case went to trial at Lewes Crown Court on July 2 and during cross examination, Van Dyke said he had been let into the house by a friend, claiming he was lawfully present.

However on July 4, the jury convicted him of aggravated burglary, but he was acquitted of assault.

He was sentenced on the same day to nine-and-a-half years in prison – half of which he will serve in custody and the other half on licence.

Detective Constable Julian Stokes said: “This was an extremely frightening incident for the family concerned, who were left shaken but thankfully not seriously hurt. This occurred in their own home – a place where they should be able to feel safe and protected from criminals such as Van Dyke.

“I would personally like to commend their bravery, which has helped to bring this brazen burglar to justice.

“His sentence sends a clear message to others that we are committed to catching criminals, and anyone who is prepared to break into another person’s home should be prepared to face the consequences.”

During the sentencing, the judge made reference to Van Dyke’s previous convictions for burglary and violence.

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