Christmas in prison for Plymouth man who took cars
A CARPENTER who took two cars and crashed them amid a drink and drug-fuelled crime spree will spend Christmas in prison.
Benedict Downes, 21, broke into two houses and stole the keys to the owners' vehicles while they were sleeping in the early hours of November 13.
A resident in Palmerston Street, Stoke, was woken by a loud bang at 12.30am and found his neighbour's Vauxhall Vectra was being broken into.
Alistair Verheijen, prosecuting at Plymouth Crown Court on Thursday, said: "He looked outside and saw the car parked at a 45-degree angle having collided with a motor home.
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"He saw a male figure walking towards him and when he paused there was a smell of intoxicants."
About an hour later Downes broke into another house in Fitzroy Road and stole the keys to a Ford Focus which he drove to Cornwall and crashed.
Mr Verheijen said: "The focus reversed and collided with a wall. A witness went over and found the driver lying across the two front seats.
"He ambled down the road and the police found him trying to hide."
Downes was found to have 42 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - over the legal limit of 35. He was also found in possession of items he had stolen from the houses.
Downes committed the offences while on bail for a previous burglary earlier in November, when he stole a Sat-Nav system worth about £150.
Malcolm Clarke, mitigating, said: "Since he was bailed he had been sleeping in a garage with no heating, no food, no lights, no money and he did something really stupid. He decided to get drunk and take drugs and go on a spree."
Downes pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to ten counts.
Recorder Michael Hubbard QC jailed Downes for nine months for each of the two burglaries, to run concurrently.
He was sentenced to seven days each - also concurrent - for one count of theft, one of driving under the influence, two counts of taking a vehicle without consent, two of driving without insurance and two of driving without a licence.
The judge told Downes: "Providing you keep your nose clean in prison you will serve half of that and you will be released on licence.
"Good luck, and when you come out try to put that carpentry skill to some use."