A VILE domestic abuser who kidnapped his girlfriend has been locked up for five years after a botched burglary at a gun shop.

Violent Dean Pitts, 27, stole seven shotguns during a raid at a firearms dealership in Colchester in 2019. 

But he was snared after he left his mobile phone at the scene of the crime.

Pitts stormed out of a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court, where he was to be sentenced for the burglary and a campaign of domestic abuse carried out against a former partner.

CCTV showed Pitts at firearms dealership KD Radcliffe, in Berechurch Hall Road, Colchester on July 2, 2019.

He broke into the premises overnight, forcing entry using a hammer and screwdriver before taking seven beretta hunting shotguns worth £1,000 each.

But the burglar accidentally left his phone inside after making off from the scene, having been using it as a torch.

The firearms were found hidden in bushes near to the store by a member of the public two months later.

Gazette: Shop raid: KD Radcliffe, in Colchester, was targetted in the raidShop raid: KD Radcliffe, in Colchester, was targetted in the raid

Pitts, of no fixed address, admitted kidnapping, burglary, two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, engaging in coercive or controlling behaviour, two charges of assault and two of criminal damage during an earlier hearing.

He initially refused to attend his sentencing, but was then ordered to be brought before the court via video link to HMP Altcourse by judge David Swinnerton.

However, the defendant stormed out of the booth shortly after the prosecution began detailing his catalogue of abuse.

The court heard the couple’s relationship began in May last year, but Pitts increasingly became verbally and physically abusive.

The 27-year-old ‘sought to isolate’ his partner from her loved ones and deleted the male friends on her social media profiles.

On one occasion in July 2020, he viciously punched her in the side at a Travelodge – causing her to collapse and leaving her struggling to breathe, after which she required hospital treatment.

In November, her dad attempted to intervene after a row erupted at the home where all three were living.

Pitts responded by grabbing him and dragging him around the room before taking his phone and smashing it when he attempted to call the police.

But the most troubling incident came a week later on Monday, November 23.

By this point, the relationship had ended – but the defendant told his ex that he would kill himself unless she met up with him.

She agreed and the pair drove around in her car talking, but the conversation became ‘hostile’ when the pair were parked up on Church Lane in Culcheth.

After she ran into a nearby convenience store, West Coast Wine, in order to seek refuge, he followed her into the shop before ‘forcing her out against her will’ – dragging her out of the off-licence by her hair, banging her head into a bin outside and bundling her back into the vehicle.

Pitts punched a passer-by in the face after he attempted to intervene, at which point his victim was able to escape back into the shop.
He too ran inside and delivered a vicious kick towards her, but instead connected with the nearby shopkeeper.

She was then dragged out of the premises and into the car for a second time before he drove away.

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Video footage of the assault, captured on CCTV cameras at the store, was played to the court.

A statement read out to the court on behalf of the victim, who was present in the public gallery, said: “He shattered any confidence I had left and made me feel worthless.

“He constantly told me I was ugly and put me down – he told me that no-one else would ever want me and made me feel very self-conscious.

“I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from me.

“I may never get over this fully, I need to take time to rebuild myself and my life and get back to the confident me I was beforehand.”

Gazette: Vile attack: Dean Pitts kidnapped his former partnerVile attack: Dean Pitts kidnapped his former partner

Sentencing him to five years and 10 months in prison, judge Swinnerton said: “I’ve asked the rhetorical question, what do you do when you have stolen shotguns?

“An obvious answer is, make money.

“It seems to me that it was almost inevitable that they would have entered the criminal fraternity.

“I have no doubt that was what he was proposing to do.”

Turning to the kidnapping, he added: “Over a period of months, he assaulted his partner on a number of occasions – but it went far beyond assault.

“It was a one-sided relationship where he did what he wanted and practically enslaved her – he treated her as his to do with what he wanted.

“Throughout all of that, he belittled her, abused her and took her away from her friends.

“She was a pale shadow of her normal self by the end of the relationship.

“It is hard to find remorse when he could not remain for the hearing – clearly he did not have the courage to sit and listen to what he had done.

“She had the courage to stay in court and listen to what happened to her.”

Judge Swinnerton also commended the member of the public who attempted to intervene for his bravery.

Pitts was handed a restraining order preventing him from contacting his victim indefinitely, and was told to pay a victim surcharge.

He will serve half of his sentence in custody before being released on licence.