An armed intruder in the olden days

A London man was given two consecutive life sentences at The Old Bailey yesterday, after being found guilty of shouting loudly at a burglar who had broken into his home in the early hours of the morning in June of this year.

Toby Dell, a postman from Whitechapel, East London, with no previous convictions, wept in the dock as the sentence was handed down by Mr Justice Terence Carter, who recommended that he should serve the full life term with no prospect of parole.

In his address to the defendant, Justice Carter said: “Society in general and the criminal fraternity, in particular, deserve a long rest from your activities.

“You are quite clearly a ruthless and callous man who is prepared to go to any lengths to inflict suffering and distress on anyone you perceive as a threat to your property, or wife and children.”

On the night in question, Dell, 68, had been woken by a noise at his terraced council home in Vallance Road, and, after arming himself with a rolled-up copy of The East London Gazette, had gone downstairs to investigate.

The court was told he saw James “Jimmy The Cat” Biggs, a convicted house-breaker with over 200 previous convictions for petty theft and assault, rifling through his sideboard.

Dell then called out in a loud agitated voice: “Oi! What do you think you’re doing? Get out!” whereupon Biggs pistol-whipped Dell to the ground, fracturing his skull, before making his escape through a window that he’d smashed to gain entry.

He was later found drinking heavily in a nearby public house by police officers who topped up his pint and gave him a packet of 20 Senior Service cigarettes.

The arresting officer, PC Len Hoadley, told the court “Mr Biggs was in an absolutely shocking condition when I spotted him in the public bar of The Bunch Of Grapes public house in Stepney.

“He looked visibly distressed and was very unsteady on his feet. Clearly, the trauma of being shouted at by Dell that night had taken a terrible toll on him.

“Myself, and fellow officer, WPC Philbert, bought him a fresh pint and gave him a pack of 20 cigarettes to steady his nerves, whereupon he broke down and told us of the terrible events of that evening.

“We immediately called for backup, and along with a number of officers in full riot gear, we smashed our way into Dell’s house where we found him quite blatantly lying unconscious on the kitchen floor in a pool of blood with a gaping head wound as if he didn’t have a care in the world. It was chilling to witness to be perfectly honest.”

Dell’s wife and children are now in hiding at a secret address to avoid being targeted by furious local vigilante groups.