A gang of burglars, snared after driving dangerously down the A1(M) to Durham, have been handed combined prison sentences of 115 months for a crime spree. 

Peter Gaffney, 33, Karl Bye, 36, and Nigel Gaffney, 56, targeted properties in Ashington and Newbiggin-by-the-Sea on the evening of July 20 and throughout July 21 last year.

The trio stole valuable items from several addresses, including mobile phones and three motor vehicles – one of which was later found burnt out by police, while another was used to flee the scene.

The third vehicle, which was stolen from the final address at a caravan park, was driven dangerously down the A1(M) towards Durham city centre.

Police pursued the vehicle, before being able to locate it. They detained both the passenger and driver, who were confirmed as son and father duo Peter Gaffney and Nigel Gaffney.

Bye was later arrested by police on July 22 in possession of a mobile phone stolen in the burglaries.

The three men appeared at Newcastle Crown Court, where they all pleaded guilty to a string of offences.

Peter Gaffney, of no fixed abode, Newbiggin, was sentenced to 46 months in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of burglary, one count of theft of a motor vehicle, dangerous driving while disqualified and with no insurance and failure to provide samples for analysis.

Bye, of Rosalind Street, Ashington, was sentenced to 57 months’ imprisonment after admitting five counts of burglary, one count of theft of a motor vehicle, one count of criminal damage, one count of theft, driving with no insurance and failure to provide samples for analysis.

Nigel Gaffney, also of Percy Street, Ashington, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment. He pleaded guilty to one count of burglary, one count of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and one count of assault.

Following the sentencing, Detective Constable Jon Mullen, of Northumbria Police, said: “This is a good result, and these individuals will serve a significant amount of time behind bars for their thoughtless actions.

“In this case, many people were caused stress and unrest as a result of this reckless spate of crimes.

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“I would like to praise the efforts of the teams involved in apprehending the three men and, ultimately, bringing them to justice. We hope it goes some way to giving the victims in this case a degree of closure.

“We would also encourage people to continue to remain vigilant by locking doors and windows and report any suspicious behaviour or criminal activity.”

If you see anyone acting suspiciously in your community, always report it to police via the ‘Report’ page of the Northumbria Police website or by calling 101. In an emergency, or if a crime is taking place, always ring 999.