Former mayor receives two year sentence for underwear theft in Lancashire, England

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

A man who was formerly a mayor of a village in Lancashire, England has been jailed for two years after being found guilty after admitting four charges of burglary.

Map of England with Lancashire in red.

59-year-old Ian Stafford, a bachelor, was formerly the mayor of the village of Preesall, however he had to resign from his position in 2009 after being arrested for burglary. His crimes would involve going into houses of people who had entrusted house keys to him as he was employed by them as a handyman or a gardener. He then searched through drawers for underwear before carrying out sex acts and stealing or replacing the underwear, and then leaving the properties. He also stole some garments. The burglaries took place in the villages of Stalmine and Poulton-le-Fylde between the dates of January 1 and June 26 in 2009.

One person became suspicious and installed a hidden camera inside her bedroom. As a result, a 14 minute DVD was recorded which shows the former mayor walking naked from the waist downwards. The DVD was passed on to the police. Police officers later raided Stafford's residence and found the underwear, which had been marked with the names of the owners. The underwear is said to have been worth up to £900 (US$1407).

The trial was held in Preston Crown Court. There the Court heard of how the victims had been "embarrassed, disgusted and shocked" by the "sexual kicks" which the man had been getting. During a previous interview with police, Ian Stafford commented at how he felt "deeply ashamed at the whole scenario because I have hurt people who have been excellent friends - I could not wish for better. I wish I had said something to someone earlier. I am not proud of any of this, I am sickened. I wish I could turn the clock back."

To masturbate into a woman's underwear and place it back in the draw [sic], you have done in other homes is bluntly revolting and the impact on your victims is high.

—Judge Heather Lloyd

Inside the court on Thursday, Judge Heather Lloyd said to Stafford: "Your private desires or fantasies which should only be your concern became public when you decided to do what you did in the homes of those who trusted you. To masturbate into a woman's underwear and place it back in the draw [sic], repeatedly, as seen in the DVD, as you have done in other homes is bluntly revolting and the impact on your victims is high." She sentenced Ian Stafford to two years in prison, with the recommendation that he takes therapy, a decision which was supported by Stafford's fourth victim.

After the court trial had concluded, Detective Constable Steve Montgomery, who comes from Lancashire Police, stated: "This has been a distressing ordeal for the victims involved, all of whom had let Mr Stafford into their homes, trusting him to carry out maintenance. They certainly did not expect him to search for, and steal, their possessions. There has been a breach of their trust in a very intimate nature. The victims are relieved that the court process is now over."