Burglar caught after victim turned detective

The Justice Centre, Leamington. NNL-140328-115802001
The Justice Centre, Leamington. NNL-140328-115802001

A burglar who was caught with most of his £3,500 haul in a holdall after the victim turned detective and managed to track him down has been jailed.

David Collins, who sat in the dock at Warwick Crown Court clutching a crucifix, had pleaded not guilty to burgling the house in Bath Street, Rugby, claiming he had found the holdall.

And a judge heard that despite being convicted by a jury, Collins, 49, of Bennett Road, Rugby, still denied the offence.

Jailing him for 12 months, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “Had you pleaded guilty I might have been able to consider suspending it; but after fighting a trial, that’s impossible.

“This was a case you had fought at trial in the face of evidence which was overwhelming.”

Prosecutor Heidi Kubik said that in April last year a house in Bath Street was broken into and ransacked.

A large amount of property was taken including two watches and his work i-Phone and laptop computer.

After reporting the burglary to the police the victim put the word out that he was looking for his property, and had a call telling him to go to the Travelodge hotel.

When he arrived he saw Collins, who was with a teenager who has been cleared of being involved in the break-in, and confronted them.

Eventually Collins admitted being responsible, and when the victim demanded his stuff back Collins handed him a holdall with most of the property in it except for an i-Pad which was later found at the teenager’s home.

The police turned up and Collins was arrested, but he claimed he had found the holdall with the property in it.

Miss Kubik said that Collins had a large number of previous convictions for dishonesty, including burglaries and thefts in the late 80s and handling stolen property in the 90s.

And just a few days before the burglary he had been given a conditional discharge for disorderly behaviour.

Mark Sharman, defending, said: “Most of the goods were recovered by the enquiries which were made by the victim himself.

“Mr Collins had a suitcase with those goods in it in his possession when confronted by the complainant. But Mr Collins maintained he was not involved in this offence, and that remains his position this morning.”

Mr Sharman said: “His life took a downward spiral after his marriage broke down and he began a long-term relationship with class A substances, and he began his relationship with alcohol at around the same time.

“He has made efforts in the past to stop his drinking, but he found the withdrawal symptoms too much to bear. But he has been abstinent from both class A drugs and alcohol since before the trial.”

Asking the judge to consider suspending the sentence he said Collins has had a heart attack in the past and suffers from diabetes and depression.

And he added: “If he is incarcerated, he intends to use his time to continue with his intention to study to be a lay preacher.”