Dartboard ransom men face long jail terms

First published in News

Two armed Cardigan men who got themselves into such a state they thought they could hold a dartboard to ransom have been warned today to expect long jail sentences.

Steven Brown, 28, and Thomas Eley, 27, forced their way into the home of Paul Dare and Eley beat him around the head with a gun—and stole his dartboard as they left.

Brown, of 23 Feidr-fair, and Eley, of 3 Heol Hafod, but more recently of 6 Castle Street, admitted aggravated burglary

Ian Wright, prosecuting, said Eley had arrived at Brown’s home boasting about how many drugs he had taken. He became agitated and told Brown he “had to do something.”

The men discussed a dartboard belonging to a man called Marcus, which they believed was at Mr Dare’s home, and developed the idea of demanding a ransom payment for its return.

Eley armed himself with a handgun and the two men began forcing their way through the front door. Mr Dare pushed a settee against the door to barricade himself in and telephoned the police.

But the men managed to open the door enough for Eley to point the gun at Mr Dare’s head.

Mr Dare dived behind the furniture and the men got in. But instead of demanding a dartboard they repeatedly shouted “decks, decks,” which Mr Dare assumed was a reference to record turntables.

Eley, said Mr Wright, beat Mr Dare on his head with the gun and punched him several times before leaving with a warning that “if you say a word the family are going to get involved.”

As they left, they stole Mr Dare’s dartboard, which police found at Brown’s home.

Mr Wright said the pair put their clothing into a washing machine. Brown hid the gun in the garden and changed into his night clothes.

Armed police and an ambulance were quickly on the scene and Brown and Eley were arrested.

Kate Williams, the barrister representing Eley, said no-one could now explain who Marcus was or whether anyone wanted a dartboard returned.

Carina Hughes, representing Brown, said he had been in such a state he could not dispute whatever the prosecution said. Nor could he explain anything about a Marcus, a dartboard or “decks.”

The men appeared at Swansea crown court via video links to Brown, at Swansea prison, and Eley, who is being held in Cardiff jail.

Judge Huw Davies said the sentences he had in mind should be passed when the men were standing in the dock in front of him, and not over video links.

He said he would have to decide if Eley, because of his criminal record and the recent offending, was dangerous as defined by law. If he did so, then it would call for an extended sentence “or worse.”

Judge Davies described the gun, a “fully functional” Co2 powered air pistol, as looking like a military weapon.

Brown and Eley will be sentenced on Friday.

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