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Burglars posed as policemen to prey on women

PUBLISHED: 16:43 20 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:10 25 August 2010

CONMAN:  Billy Birchall.

CONMAN: Billy Birchall.

TWO burglars who used a police uniform to access vulnerable people s homes have been jailed.

TWO burglars who used a police uniform to access vulnerable people's homes have been jailed.

Billy Birchall, 24, and Simon Ali, 35, both from Plumstead, pleaded guilty to conspiring and carrying out burglaries in their area, at Woolwich Crown Court on August 8. Whilst Birchall, of Eglington Road was in Belmarsh Prison in 2007, he plotted with Ali, of Griffin Road, to burgle houses in Shrewsbury Lane, Plumstead.

The court was told that Birchall was picking up knowledge of potential premises to target from other prisoners and passing them on to Ali.

Dressed as a policeman, Ali approached two residential homes belonging to lone women on January 4, 2007.

Armed with police equipment including handcuffs, he gained entry using a false warrant and stole about £500.

Both Ali and Birchall were arrested on June 12 last year, and a search of Birchall's prison cell revealed a map with various targeted premises marked on it.

At Ali's home, they found handwritten notes detailing intended burglary victims.

Birchall thought their scam could make £30,000 and he instructed Ali to target Vietnamese residents in Woolwich and Thamesmead.

False police identification was found stored on Ali's computer.

Detective Sergeant Paul Dorey said: "It is likely that he would have had no hesitation about going in heavy handed if need be and using the handcuffs on his victims."

Ali was sentenced to five years for conspiracy to commit burglary, and five years each for the two he carried out to run concurrently.

Birchall received the same sentence plus an indeterminate prison sentence to serve a minimum of five years for admitting to knifing a 27-year-old man's face in a Woolwich nightclub for no reason in 2006.

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