WHEN Peter O’Neil found himself drunk and broke after a day out to Stratford-upon-Avon, he decided to raise some money by breaking into a house, a judge has heard.
He was arrested after his blood was found at the scene, and at Warwick Crown Court he pleaded guilty to burgling the house in Birmingham Road, Stratford, in April.
O’Neil, aged 29, of Holden Crescent, Walsall, was jailed for three years after the court heard he was a ‘three strikes’ burglar.
Prosecutor Alex Warren said that in April a couple went away for the weekend, having left their home in Birmingham Road secure.
But when they returned on the Sunday evening they found a window in the utility room had been smashed and two laptop computers had been stolen from downstairs rooms. More distressing, they then discovered that upstairs the bedrooms had been searched and approaching £7,000 worth of jewellery, some of it of sentimental value, had been taken.
O’Neil, who had 13 previous convictions for 35 offences, including two for burglary, was identified from bloodstains found at the scene.
When he was arrested O’Neil, who was on licence at the time from a three-year sentence imposed in November 2010 at Wolverhampton Crown Court for burglaries, admitted the offence.
Nicholas Berry, defending, told Judge Alan Parker: “I recognise there is no alternative. I simply seek to persuade Your Honour to keep the sentence as close as possible to the three-year minimum term.
“It is a great shame he is in this position following his last custodial sentence when he had handed himself in to the police and confessed to a number of offences because he wanted to make a fresh start.”
Mr Berry said that when O’Neil came out, he began working with his father as a decorator and got his own home—but he missed probation appointments and was recalled to prison to finish his sentence. By the time he came out after a further seven-and-a-half months, he was addicted to Tramadol, and that spiralled into the use of Class A drugs.
But Mr Berry said since being remanded in custody O’Neil has been testing negative for illegal drugs, adding: “He knows that unless he changes his attitude, he’s going to remain in this rut for years to come.”
Jailing O’Neil, the judge pointed out that at the time of the offence he was on licence from the sentence imposed in November 2010 and that was a serious aggravating feature.
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