AN ILTON member of a Somerset-based organised crime group has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

Rocky Broadway, 32, of Chubbards Cross, Ilton, and Leonard Packman, 47 from Rockwell Green, Wellington, were both sentenced at Bristol Crown Court on April 12 after pleading guilty to more than 50 offences of commercial burglary.

The sentencing comes as a result of a long and complex investigation by Avon and Somerset Police into a large series of cross-border commercial and non-dwelling burglaries and other theft offences.

The estimated value of their criminal work is thought to run to over £400,000 and has had a huge impact on business, farmers and other industries across Somerset and the South West and involved violence and intimidation on a number of occasions.

The group were responsible for the theft of vehicles, farm machinery, quad bikes, cigarettes, scratch cards, tools, generators, metal and motorbikes amongst other things.

Detective Chief Inspector Ray Hulin from Somerset Investigations, said: “I am really pleased with the result of today’s sentencing. My team have worked extremely hard over a long period of time and a wide geographic area to bring this case together.

“I think it is testament to their hard work that Mr Packman and Mr Broadway pleaded guilty to the offences and have received these sentences.

“The public, local businesses and the communities of Somerset deserve to be protected from organised career criminals like Broadway and Packman. We don’t underestimate the negative impact they have had locally.

“They have used violence and intimidation towards the public whilst going about their criminality, so I am pleased that this threat has now been removed. Somerset is a safer place as a result of today.

“I would like this to serve as a warning to other criminals, don’t see Somerset as a soft touch. We won’t tolerate organised crime, intimidating or violent behaviour and we will work with our partners and the local community to take robust action against anyone involved in such activities.”

A third member of the group, Billy Broadway, also pleaded guilty and is due to be sentenced next month.

DC/Insp Hulin added: “I would like to take this opportunity to ask the public to keep coming to us with information about crime in their area. We have to work together to bring offenders such as these to justice.

“Every single person can play an active role in helping to keep their community safe. So iIf you do have any information about crime in your area, please call either us or Crimestoppers. It can make a huge difference.”