Three-strike Pelton burglar arrested within two days of latest crime

A THIRD strike burglar came clean when police called at his home two days after his most recent offence.

Jack Birkett, 19, carried out the break-in at a house in Pelton, near Chester-le-Street, County Durham, on Monday, January 21.

Durham Crown Court was told the 62-year-old householder was out at the time, but on returning home at 10pm she noticed a dish rack on the kitchen floor.

All the rooms appeared to have been searched, with property missing from a bedroom and the living room.

Lynsey Colling, prosecuting, said entry appeared to have been made via an unlocked window and a lap-top computer, jewellery, a camera, a watch and £8, worth a combined total of £309, was taken.

The angry victim told police it was the second break-in at her home, in Greenacres, within two months.

She felt bitter that having worked all her life to pay for household goods, someone could just sneak in and remove her property.

Ms Colling said police arrested Birkett at his home, in The Avenue, Pelton, on January 23.

He told the officers: “Yes, I did the burglary”, but he tried to sit on something in his hand, on the settee.

The officers seized the item, a ladies’ gold wrist watch, while a gold hooped ear-ring and two pearls clip ear-rings were recovered in a search of the house.

All were taken in the break-in, but no other property was recovered and Birkett told police he sold the lap-top computer for five bags of heroin.

Birkett admitted burglary, and asked for the theft of a mountain bike, on October 24, and of toiletries and alcohol from B & M Bargains, in Chester-le-Street, on January 16, to be taken into consideration.

Tony Davis, mitigating, said the defendant was aware of his fate having now totted up his third burglary conviction.

The court heard the offences took place not long after his release from a previous custodial sentence.

Mr Davis added that in his time in custody, awaiting sentence, Birkett has managed to reduce his methadone prescription, in a bid to overcome his heroin addiction.

Recorder Jonathan Aitken said he had little alternative but to impose the mandatory three-year sentence for a third-strike burglar.

But he reduced it to two years and 146 days in a young offenders’ institution to credit Birkett’s swift guilty pleas.

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