Above: Paul Prior and Karine Solloway
A male and female, responsible for a terrifying robbery of more than £150,000 worth of jewellery and other items, have been ordered to repay more than £40,000 in reparations to their victims.
The case against Karine Solloway and Paul Prior began on 7 October 2016 following a robbery in Alderley Edge, in which the two victims were bound with cable ties and forced to wear ear defenders and blacked out goggles, during a traumatic ordeal that lasted four-and-a-half hours in their home.
At one point cling film was placed over one of the victim’s face – the other was forced to sit on the sofa with her legs parted – leading her to believe that she was about to be raped.
When the offenders finally left the scene, the victims managed to free themselves, and call the police.
During the subsequent investigation, led by Detective Sergeant Simon Mills of Macclesfield CID, DNA found on the ear defenders linked to one of the perpetrators. Stolen items were later seen being offered on eBay and traced back to his home in Greenwich.
During their interviews with the victims, officers discovered that one of them owed £100,000 to a London businesswoman, Solloway, which he intended to pay back. Subsequent mobile phone analysis revealed that Solloway had hired Prior to commit the robbery in order to get back the money she was owed.
Prior and Solloway were both arrested and charged in connection with the incident, as were two men who helped Prior carry out the robbery, Iain McGarry and Kimpton Mativenga.
In December 2017 Solloway, 61, from the Marylebone area of London, was found guilty of conspiracy to rob at Chester Crown Court. She received a 10-year prison sentence. The other three offenders pleaded guilty to robbery.
Prior, 36; McGarry, 50, of Weybridge; and Mativenga, 33, of St Albans; were jailed for 10 years with a further three years on licence, eight years and six-and-a-half years respectively.
However, the investigation did not stop there. While officers had been able to recover £82,000 during their initial investigation, the team were aware that at least £70,000 was still outstanding. Over the next two years an investigation was undertaken by Financial Investigator Jones from the Cheshire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit, who conducted detailed examinations into the finances of Prior and Solloway, to determine what funds could be recovered.
On Friday 27 September the case was called back to Chester Crown Court for a proceeds of crime hearing.
After listening all of the evidence gathered by the Economic Crime Unit, His Honour Judge (HHJ) Berkson ordered Solloway and Prior to repay £19,776.74 and £24,040.50 respectively – a total of £43,817.24. If they do not repay the money within three months they face further time behind bars. Of the money recovered £39,553.48 has been awarded to the victims as compensation.
The remaining money will be given to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire to utilise for community projects.
Detective Sergeant Helen Rowland, of the Economic Crime Unit said: “This was a truly shocking case. What the victims went through was absolutely terrifying. I can’t imagine how frightening it was to be bound with cable ties, blindfolded and deprived of your senses in your own home by robbers. That is something no-one should ever have to go through.”
“Over the past two years Solloway and Prior did everything they possibly could to frustrate the confiscation process in order to keep hold of as much of their ill-gotten gains as possible. However, thanks to the dedication of Financial Investigator Jones we have been able to recover a further £43,000, the majority of which will be returned to the victims.”
“In total we have been able to return more than £120,000 to the pair. While the victims will never be able to forget what happened to them that day, I hope that this result, on top of the prison sentences that the offenders received, will give them some closure and allow them to move forward with their lives. I also hope that this acts as a warning to other potential offenders and shows them that crime doesn’t pay and any penalties invoked by the Proceeds of Crime Act will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”