A man who carried out a string of terrifying house raids where victims were threatened with rape and tied up with shoelaces and his wife who fenced the stolen goods have been jailed.
Gary Spilsbury, 48, and his wife Gemma, 36, were behind a series of terrifying burglaries targeting elderly victims up to 90-years-old, as well as families and businesses.
In one raid, Spilsbury tied up a 24-year-old woman with her phone charger and said he would rape her unless she gave him her bank details.
Another woman, aged 77, was tied up with her own shoelaces as he demanded she hand over her details and ransacked her home, leaving it looking ‘like a typhoon had hit’.
Spilsbury’s wife sold many of the stolen items including laptops, gardening equipment and children’s prams on the black market.
Gary Spilsbury, 48, and his wife Gemma, 36, (pictured together) were behind a series of terrifying burglaries, including one where the victim, 24, was tied up with her phone charger and threatened with rape
The couple from Farnworth, near Bolton, Greater Manchester, were arrested after a police operation.
Spilsbury was jailed for nine years at Minshull Street Crown Court after he admitted ten charges of burglary, two of robbery, five of theft and two of fraud.
His wife of 13 years was also jailed for nine months after she admitted handling stolen goods.
In a statement read out to the court, the 24-year-old victim said: ‘He tied me up and threatened to rape me and it is the single most frightening thing I have ever experienced and has impacted my mental health and wellbeing.
‘I could see he was high on drugs and felt he would be capable of carrying out the threats.
‘I felt violated and helpless, and genuinely thought he was going to rape me or kill me.’
Spilsbury carried out the raids while his wife Gemma fenced the stolen goods on the black market, the court was told
She had to take time off work and suffered terrifying flashbacks of the incident.
‘For many months I would wake up in the middle of the night and have panic attacks thinking someone was at my house,’ her statement added.
‘I didn’t feel safe and could not shake off the thought of him coming back or that someone else would do the same thing to me.’
The pair had previously been charged with robbing old folk in the street court with Spilsbury himself clocking up 115 convictions in 30 years – mainly for targeting pensioners.
During one 11 day crime spree in 2003, Spilsbury beat a 79-year-old woman with her own walking stick as he robbed her of her handbag.
Fourteen other women aged between 72 and 90 were also mugged.
Spilsbury was jailed for nine years at Minshull Street Crown Court after he admitted ten charges of burglary, two of robbery, five of theft and two of fraud
The latest raids occurred between August and October 2019 after Spilsbury had been freed from a nine and a half year jail term for burglary and robbery and when he was living in a ‘half way’ house ahead of going home to his wife.
Prosecutor James Preece said: ‘One victim a 77-year-old woman woke up at 6.30am to be confronted by the defendant wearing a balaclava and she could only see his eyes.
‘He knocked her to the floor tied her hands behind her back and feet together with shoelaces and demanded she give him her PIN number. She did so in terror.’
She wriggled free and escaped before knocking on a neighbour’s door to raise the alarm.
‘Her house had been ransacked and she said it was like a total wreck as if a typhoon had hit it,’ the prosecutor added.
‘The defendant took £250 from her bank account, and a mobile phone and jewellery with a combined worth of £500. She is still scared and does not feel safe in her own home.’
‘Another victim a 24-year-old woman woke up when she heard someone in the bedroom and Spilsbury…asked for her PIN and told her that “better be the right PIN” or he would rape her and tried to pull his trousers down to make the threat clear.
‘She was terrified and then provided the correct PIN.’
He had taken her mobile, laptop and card along with £500 cash. His DNA was later found on the electronics he used to tie her up.
The couple were sentenced to 10 years in total at Minshull Street Crown Court (pictured, stock image)
Spilsbury was caught the next day after he tried to exchange the laptop at a cash trader in Oldham.
Police found messages between him and his wife telling him to ‘ask for’ £100.
‘Texts showed he had committed more burglaries and that she had converted stolen items into cash,’ Mr Preece said.
Following one raid she sold laptop and pram at a cash converter for £170.
Other thefts included taking a Nissan Micra from an 89-year-old man, stealing £2,730 worth of electronics and bank cards from a victim aged 72 with disabilities, and a £950 theft of a laptop and gold watch from a family as they slept.
In mitigation, Spilsbury’s lawyer Richard Simons claimed ‘no serious physical harm was caused to the victims’ and said the experience of his 24-year-old victim ‘cannot be described as serious psychological harm.’
But sentencing Judge John Potter told the couple: ‘You both have a corrosive effect on our communities and you are people with no moral compass.
‘Gary Spilsbury, you have a long, unenviable and dreadful record of previous convictions and these offences once again show you as a ruthless, determined criminal who is willing to harm vulnerable people by subjecting them to violence, fear and humiliation.
‘You went into people’s homes and behaved in the way you did for selfish gain.’