Judge gives city house burglar one last chance

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A burglar climbed into a partially deaf woman’s home as she and her two-year-old daughter slept.

David Patel, a heroin addict, narrowly avoided an immediate jail term but was warned he would be sent straight to prison if he committed any more crimes.

The defendant, wearing a white T-shirt and baggy grey jogging bottoms, smirked as he walked into the dock at Preston Crown Court.

Prosecuting, Susan Carter said Patel had stolen a mobile phone and cigarettes from the kitchen of a house on Malvern Terrace in Preston on May 10.

Preston Crown Court heard the frightened victim, whose husband works abroad, woke to find her kitchen light on, but the 25-year-old thief had already fled.

Patel, a former warehouse worker who has a string of 26 offences on his record, pleaded guilty to burglary and breaching a conditional discharge and community order.

Miss Carter said: “He was identified through a fingerprint left on the window and was arrested six days later.

“In interview he made no comment.”

In a personal impact statement read in court, the victim said she had considered moving home, and had even been away for a few days after the incident.

She said when she returned to her home she “couldn’t stop crying” and worried about what would have happened if Patel had gone further than the kitchen.

She also described feeling very “uneasy” and “nervous”.

Defending, Darren Lee-Smith said Patel had cited a mix up with his methadone prescription as his motivation for committing the burglary.

He added: “His only option according to him, was to obtain property to sell to buy heroin.

His Honour Judge Byrne said: “The effect on the householder will linger for longer than the conclusion of the sentence you’re about to receive.

“I care about the public who have got to be protected from your conduct.

“Do not make the mistake of thinking it is a soft touch because it isn’t, as you will soon learn.

“If you come back before the court and fail the last chance I’m giving you, you will go straight to prison.”

He sentenced him to 12 months jail suspended for two years, with two years supervision, a £100 surcharge and a drugs rehabilitation order.