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'Three time' Preston burglar avoids minimum jail term - because he reached through a window instead of breaking in

Edale Court
Edale Court

A drug addict who managed to burgle a flat without actually breaking in, has avoided a three year jail term.

James Brown Colton, 56, of no fixed abode, was seen walking into a porch area of a property on Edale Court, Preston, at 10.50am on July 2 before reaching through a window and stealing a Nokia mobile and cigarettes off the windowsill.

By doing so he fell foul of a law called the three strike rule - which cites offenders convicted of a third dwelling burglary must receive a minimum of three years.

Colton has amassed 85 convictions for 183 offences, including two burglaries in 2000 and 2009.

Defending, Michelle Brown argued it was unjust to impose the ‘three strike’ terms because the two burglaries were a long time ago, and Colton had not physically broken in.

Peter Barr, prosecuting, said the house was occupied by a man who had recently been discharged from hospital, and added: “It was opportunistic with no evidence of preplanning.

“He sees the window is ajar, pulls it open and is able to reach in.”

Recorder David Potter agreed three years would be unjust and jailed him for 13 months.

He said: “I’m satisfied you did not know of his vulnerabilities but that is the risk when you go burgling people’s houses.

“You must take the complainant as you find them.”