TWO blundering crooks branded the “Laurel and Hardy of the criminal world” by a judge were jailed for a combined total of nearly 10 years.

Balaclava-clad James Taylor and Daniel Watkins, both of Cwmbran, carried out a botched burglary at a Superdrug store, where they stole more than £4,500 of perfume.

But the early morning raid took them so long that staff arrived to witness them loading boxes of fragrances into the car they had hired after they tripped the alarm.


The pair failed to make a clean getaway as the police were soon on the scene and on their scent as Taylor and Watkins sped off, hitting a parked car while doing so.

A chase ensued and their escape bid hit a dead end when the duo drove into a cul-de-sac where they were forced to abandon their vehicle.

Police dog handlers were called as officers went about sniffing them out.

Taylor was soon found hiding in a garden and Watkins was arrested on a train, bringing the fiasco to an end.

South Wales Argus:

James Taylor

And while the two were released on bail, they were caught together selling heroin in a Sainsbury’s car park to undercover police.

During his arrest months later, Taylor bit an officer’s hand twice as he was stopping him from trying to swallow heroin and falsely told him he was HIV positive.

Watkins, aged 32, of Monnow Court, Thornhill, entered an early guilty to burglary and pleaded guilty to supplying heroin on the day of his trial.

Taylor, aged 29, of Aran Court, also Thornhill, admitted burglary, being concerned in the supply of heroin, attempting to supply heroin, possessing heroin with intent to supply and assaulting an emergency worker.

The burglary took place in Treorchy’s Superdrug on December 17, 2018 and all the other offences earlier this year in Cwmbran.

Describing the raid, prosecutor Ieuan Bennett told Cardiff Crown Court: “The defendants hired a car and took an implement with them to break into the store.

“They were wearing some sort of balaclava-type masks and they smashed their way in.

South Wales Argus:

Daniel Watkins

“They made some effort to cover their tracks by damaging a number of monitors but failed to disable the recording system.

“The alarm had been triggered and members of staff soon arrived to witness what was going on.

“Sensibly, they didn’t try to tackle the pair. The defendants realised the police were en route and dropped a number of boxes of perfume before they sped off.

“They collided with a parked car, causing minor damage, before they drove at 70mph in a 30mph zone and went into a nearby cul-de-sac.”

Mr Bennett said police recovered one balaclava from their vehicle which contained Watkins’ DNA.

The court was told the combined cost to Superdrug of the stolen perfume and damage caused to the shop was more than £10,000.

The company had to close their store for days for repairs to be made last Christmas, costing them another estimated total of £20,000 in lost sales.

Just over a month later the pair were caught red-handed selling heroin to an undercover officer in the Sainsbury’s car park at Cwmbran town centre in the middle of the day as part of Gwent Police’s Operation Dynamic, a crackdown on organised crime.


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Lowri Wynn Morgan, for drug user Taylor, said: “He comes from a hard-working and supportive family and wishes to apologise to his victims.”

She told the court her client wished to resume his sports science degree studies to improve his career prospects.

Andrew Davies, mitigating for Watkins, said: “The defendant has been drug-free since January.

“He was bullied at school and an acquaintance threw him into a fire.

“The defendant sustained serious burns and was treated for several weeks at the burns unit at Morriston Hospital.

“He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and developed a class A addiction.”

Judge Nicola Jones said of the defendants: “They are the Laurel and Hardy of the criminal world.”

She condemned Taylor, telling him: “You bit the police officer twice as he stopped you trying to swallow the heroin by putting his hand over your mouth.

“It was possible you were going to die and he was only trying to protect you. You told him, ‘I’ve got HIV.

“You caused him considerable distress and worry. Such behaviour is abhorrent.”

Taylor was sent to prison for four years and eight months and Watkins for five years and one month.