Updated: Man found guilty of violent burglary at champion shooter's home
A man has been found guilty of carrying out a violent burglary at the Northiam home of champion clay pigeon shooter George Digweed.
Mark Love, 38, of Staplehurst in Kent, had been on trial at Maidstone Crown Court.
A jury delivered a guilty verdict this lunchtime (Thursday, September 29).
Love was also found guilty of the murder of pensioner Roy Blackman at his bungalow in Biddenden
Mr Blackman, 73, was bludgeoned to death and his body was found on March 21.
A number of items had been stolen from Mr Blackman’s house, including a large safe that held a large amount of cash, firearms, and jewellery.
Kent Police quickly identified Love as a suspect in the murder and the burglary at Mr Digweed’s home in Ewhurst Lane in Northiam.
On February 21, a group of four men smashed their way into Mr Digweed’s home, assaulted both him and his wife Kate, and stole a large amount of cash, a Toyota Hilux and firearms.
A dark-coloured Mini Cooper had been seen by passers-by to be parked dangerously, near to Mr Digweed’s home, and this was to become relevant later in the inquiry.
DNA was recovered from a club hammer and taser that were left behind and this was matched to Love.
The Hilux was later seized by officers on March 7 after it was abandoned in Biddenden.
Speaking after the incident earlier this year, Mr Digweed, who is originally from Hastings, said: “We are both mentally scarred forever.
“I’m also pretty sore.”
Love was sentenced to life imprisonment and will serve a minimum of 28 years before being considered for parole.
Detective Inspector Lee Whitehead from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “In relation to the attack in Northiam, I hope this conviction will go some way in allowing the victims to move on with their lives after such a traumatic incident.
“They have my thanks for their support and patience throughout this inquiry.”
And DI Whitehead had a message for the other, as yet unidentified, men who took part in the raids.
He said: “Mark Love was not alone in committing these offences and I would like to reassure members of the public that our investigation will continue to identify those who are yet to face justice.”
Love is due to be sentenced this afternoon.
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