A HEARTLESS “professional burglar” who raided the house of an elderly couple and stole sentimental jewellery after smashing his way in has been jailed.

Dewi Simmons was caught in the act by his victims as he ransacked the property in the Llanmartin area of Newport as they returned home.

The 43-year-old, of Keble Court, Graig y Rhacca, near Caerphilly, had denied burglary but was convicted by a jury after a trial.

At Newport Crown Court, Judge Neil Bidder QC, jailed him for six years.

A Gwent Police spokesperson said: “On 23rd January 2018, Simmons burgled the home of an elderly couple in Llanmartin.

“His victims returned to their house whilst the burglary was in progress and were confronted by the burglar running down the stairs when they opened the door.

“Simmons gained entry by smashing windows with a garden fork, before ransacking the property.

“He stole sentimental jewellery which had been in the family for generations, as well as cash set aside for a golden wedding anniversary present.”

The spokesperson added that catching Simmons was a real community effort as local residents provided statements and CCTV images all of which ultimately led to a jury finding Simmons guilty.

Police said the defendant remained unremorseful throughout the investigation and trial and the judge reflected on this in handing down a six-year prison sentence.

Detective Constable Jack Purcell, the officer in the case, said: “Dewi Simmons is a prolific offender, referred to by the judge as a professional burglar.

“The distress caused to the victims in this case was immense and will stay with them for years to come.

“The community spirit shown by local residents assisted police in their investigation and I would like to thank them for this.

“The sentence given to Simmons really reflects the gravity of this offence.”