THREE thugs will spend years behind bars after carrying out a “brutal, callous and wicked” attack on an elderly couple.

Reece Dadson, 18, Charlie Stutz, 20, Brandon Garrett, 19, were derided by Judge John Lodge when appearing at Basildon Crown Court for an aggravated burglary on an elderly couple in Grays in December last year.

The trio had broken into the home of the couple in Cromwell Road at 2.35am on December 4 with the aim of stealing items of jewellery.

When they forced their way in, they were confronted by the couple. While Dadson and Garrett went upstairs to look for valuables, Stutz threw the man, 87, to the floor and assaulted him while his wife looked on in horror.

The woman was also threatened with an imitation firearm.

The men fled the scene, but were apprehended by police on the same night, but not before Stutz assaulted an emergency worker when trying to flee.

The 87-year-old man suffered heavy bruising to both of his eyes, a bleed on his brain and had his nose fractured.

At court on Friday, Richard Potts, prosecuting, read out victim impact statements from the woman and her daughter.

In the statement, the woman said: “Whenever we used to stay home alone we felt relaxed and safe, but now there is an unrelenting fear that we will be attacked and burgled again.

“When someone comes to the door the fear returns that it will happen again.

“I get nervous and frightened. I don’t feel safe at home and I feel I need extra security. I feel the need to check doors and windows. My health has deteriorated. The monumental pressure is too much to handle.

“I often feel exhausted and straightforward tasks feel a huge strain. All my hobbies and interests have halted whilst I adjust to a new way of life in caring for my husband.

“Those burglars behaved like animals. I cannot obliterate the image of my husband’s face covered in blood.

“The attacker forced his gun against my neck and forced me around my living room. I sometimes still feel the barrel when looking in the mirror.”

At various points in the hearing and victim impact statements, Garrett and Stutz could be seen smiling and chuckling with each other.

Members of their friends and family in the public gallery could also be seen laughing.

Dadson and Garrett admitted one count of aggravated burglary. Stutz admitted aggravated burglary, assault of an emergency worker and handling stolen goods in relation to the car he used to drive the trio to the home, which had been stolen.

Garrett and Dadson’s mitigation said they were remorseful.

Mitigating for Stutz, William England said he had “chucked himself right in the deep end of criminal behaviour” but said he had no previous convictions and was of previous good character.

Sentencing the three, Judge John Lodge said: “This was a brutal, callous and wicked attack on a vulnerable and elderly couple.

“It was forced far beyond anything necessary because you were driven by the need to steal in a burglary.

“We know you wanted to burgle that property. Whether you knew it was an elderly couple or not, you targeted it because of an opportunity to steal jewellery.

“When confronted by the people in there you not only did you burgle the property but you inflicted substantial harm on them and left them with lasting physical and psychological effects.

“It’s hard to imagine a more serious allegation of aggravated burglary. You were acting together, you had an imitation firearm, you were a gang.”

Stutz, of Darenth Lane, South Ockendon, received a total of nine years and nine months in a youth detention facility for aggravated burglary, assault of an emergency worker and handling stolen goods.

Garrett, of Gobions Avenue, Romford, received nine years and nine months for aggravated burglary, whilst Dadson, of no fixed address, received six years detention for the same charge.

During the sentencing a man in the public gallery began recording the trio on his phone, a criminal offence, and was told to leave.