Crimewatch: New leads on Birstwith armed raid after BBC reconstruction

Leigh and Ben Kempley. Pic: Ross Parry
Leigh and Ben Kempley. Pic: Ross Parry
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A family have spoken of their terror after an armed gang burst into their home and threatened to kill them, before fleeing with hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of shotguns and jewellery.

A reconstruction of the armed raid at High Birstwith featured on BBC’s Crimewatch this week and mum of four Leigh Kempley revealed to the programme that the masked gang threatened to shoot her 16-year-old son Ben during the ordeal in December.

Picture shows family home / Steven Schofield

Picture shows family home / Steven Schofield

The young family were left ‘traumatised’ after masked burglars threatened them with crow bars during the incident on December 6, 2013.

Leigh was at the family home with her 16-year son Ben and younger daughter preparing dinner when the raiders burst in and demanded to know the whereabouts of jewellery, watches and guns.

Over the next 15 minutes the burglars took Leigh and her daughter hostage while they marched Ben around the house.

Leigh said: “I wouldn’t tell them where anything was, I just wouldn’t tell them.

“So they threatened to shoot Ben, what do you do when somebody does that to you?

“That is really tough.

“It was chaotic. One was grabbing me and the other one, who seemed to be in charge, was shouting and demanding to know where the jewellery was, the watches, where the safe was.

“I was petrified and I didn’t know what they were going to do with the kids.”

Ben, who was just 16 at the time of the raid, spoke bravely on the programme about the burglary which he said has been one of the hardest things he has ever had to deal with.

He said: “The threats they were proposing was initially that they were going to kill my mum and sister.

“When you get told that by people you don’t know in balaclavas with crow bars it is a serious threat.

“It was really horrible, they could do anything. I think in a situation like that you completely believe it.”

The gang stole guns and expensive jewellery from the property, stripping housewife Leigh of the £250,000 diamond ring, earrings and necklace she was wearing.

Leigh added: “The most important thing seemed to be to find the guns. I wouldn’t tell then anything so they threatened to shoot Ben.”

They took Ben through several rooms before finding gun cabinet.

“Guns are just a symbol of death,” said Ben.

Six shotguns and a rifle were stolen, though three have now been recovered.

The missing shotguns are a Krieghoff K80 over-and-under 12-bore shotgun, a Beretta DT10 12-bore shotgun and two 12-bore Perazzi over-and-under shotguns.

A 9.77-carat pear-cut platinum claw-set solitaire ring, a men’s 18-carat white gold Patek Philippe Grand Complication Chronograph watch, and a pair of 18-carat gold and 8.58-carat brilliant-cut diamond claw-set earrings were stolen by the gang of four men.

The men, who were of Asian appearance, fled the scene in the family’s white Porsche 911, which they later abandoned on White Wall Lane, Tang.

The Crimewatch reconstruction led to eight calls from the public and five calls to North Yorkshire Police.

Det Insp Andrea Kell, said: “We have received some encouraging calls, particularly about the stolen jewellery. These will be followed up over the coming days.
“Anyone who has any information and has not yet got in touch is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police and ask for Harrogate CID. Or you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”