A MERSEYSIDE TRIO who were arrested in the garden of one of the richest men in the North of Ireland have been sentenced to a total of 17 years for their attempted burglary plot.
Richard Blundell (52), of Bardsay Road, Liverpool; Stephen Barlow (50), of Hewitson Road, Liverpool; and Craig Murray (33), of Victoria Road, Crosby, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.
In April 2011 they targeted the south Belfast home of KFC tycoon Michael Herbert, but were foiled by a covert surveillance operation by the PSNI’s Organised Crime Branch.
A fortnight ago Belfast Crown Court heard that the gang arrived in Belfast on March 31, 2011, on a ferry form Stranraer and booked into a local hotel under false names.
The following day the trio undertook the first of three ‘reconnaissance operations’.
Following all three ‘recces’ the men returned to Stranraer on April 4.
Four days later, on April 8, they sailed to Dublin from Holyhead, before making their way back to the Belfast hotel and returning to their target house.
PSNI officers arrested all three, clad in balaclavas and gloves, as they attempted to leave Herbert’s garden.
Later they uncovered a backpack containing cable ties, knives, a screwdriver, a lump hammer and a can of WD40 oil.
On Friday, January 17 Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland sentenced Blundell and Barlow to six years, with three in custody and the remainder on licence.
Murray was sentenced to five years, with half in custody and the remainder on licence.