Thug raided Houghton Regis school and children's centre before threatening nearby shopworker with knife

Paul Magnan
Paul Magnan

A masked thug who threatened Houghton Regis shopworkers with knives and raided a school and children's centre in town during a long burglary spree has at last been brought to justice.

Paul Magnan, 30, previously of Hillborough Crescent, Houghton Regis, pleaded guilty to 13 offences and was jailed for eight years yesterday (Wednesday) at Luton Crown Court.

Magnan’s spree began on February 7 when he broke into McColls Newsagents in Dunstable. He left blood at the scene which was later linked to him by forensic tests.

Two days later, he smashed a window to a Parkside Children’s Centre in Houghton Regis, and stole two laptops. He again left blood at the scene on a door inside.

Overnight between February 12 and 13, Magnan broke into Hawthorne Park Primary School in Houghton Regis, again leaving his blood at the scene. He searched the school and stole six laptops and a camera worth £2,700.

A week later, in the early hours of February 20, he broke into an e-cigarette shop in Dunstable, stealing approximately £1,100 worth of stock. He not only left his blood at the scene but also was clearly captured on CCTV.

Two weeks later he targeted a Co-op store in Dunstable, forcing metal shutters open and using a brick to smash the glass behind them. He targeted the cigarette stall, stealing approximately £3,500 worth of cigarettes and nicotine.

On March 7, Magnan filled a basket of items in a Nisa store in Houghton Regis and left without attempting to pay for the items. After a string of business break-ins, he then committed a knife-point robbery at the store on March 11. He threatened a member of staff with a knife and demanded money from the till, before leaping over the counter and stealing two money boxes before fleeing.

Magnan committed a further knifepoint robbery on March 17, when he entered Hockwell Ring Post Office wearing a scarf covering his face. He threatened staff members with a knife and stole a till from behind the counter.

When reviewing CCTV, Magnan was seen at the post office just a day before wearing exact same clothing and was identified by a witness.

He was arrested on March 21 by three police officers, after stealing car keys from a locker in a gym in Houghton Regis, and subsequently stealing the car.

The owner of the car called police, and officers located the stolen car less than two minutes after the initial call. Magnan abandoned it and attempted to flee but was detained at the scene.

During his spree, the officers who investigated the scenes of his crimes gathered DNA evidence left behind by Magnan as well as CCTV footage.

Additionally at the time of his arrest he was wearing shoes which officers forensically matched the Nisa store robbery.

Magnan was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment in total.

DC Gary Hatton said: “It is clear that Magnan committed his crimes deliberately and systematically and with no regard to other members of our community. He showed a quick escalation from business burglaries in the middle of the night to threatening innocent members of staff with a knife in a broad daylight.

“He stole thousands of pounds worth of goods, caused a great deal of damage to the properties he targeted and his actions will have caused financial loss to business owners who were unable to carry out their usual business.

“Throughout our investigation we have built a strong case against Magnan, and due to an overwhelming burden of CCTV and forensic evidence, he decided to plead guilty.

“Magnan belongs behind bars and will now spend a lengthy time in prison paying for his crimes.

“We will not tolerate violent crimes and burglaries in our neighbourhoods and we will continue to work hard to apprehend the perpetrators."