Jail term for burglar who returned handbag to victim
A remorseful burglar has been jailed after he returned his victim's handbag with a letter of apology which included his own mobile phone number.
Nicholas Adams did not return the £300 he took out of a cashpoint with a bank card he found in the bag but did take it back to the house where he had stolen it in a sneak raid.
His note said he was sorry for stealing the money but said he was in debt and needed it to feed his family. He promised to repay the £300 but the home owner called the police.
The judge passing sentence on Adams has called for an inquiry into how he was able to get a job as a driver with a courier firm when he has a string of convictions for breaking into unoccupied homes.
Adams' remorse did not last long because just 11 days later he carried out a £17,000 jewellery raid on a large detached house which he scouted out while delivering parcels.
He was caught because the owner of the house arrived as he was leaving and took a note of the registration number of his white van, Exeter Crown Court was told.
Adams, of Wilkinson Road, Plymouth, admitted two dwelling house burglaries and two cashpoint frauds. He was jailed for four years by Judge Phillip Wassall who read out a list of Adams' convictions which include four different jail terms for burglaries or handling, and a five-year term for armed robbery.
Judge Wassall said: "It is a real concern how an active burglar is employed as a delivery driver without any checks being undertaken. I want the prosecution to investigate because the firm concerned needs to be challenged about security checks."
Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said Adams was working as a self-employed contract driver for a Plymouth courier firm.
He broke into a home in Raddenstile Lane, Exmouth, where he was delivering a parcel and saw owner Christine Ashley's handbag on the kitchen table. He used a card to take out £300 from the nearby cashpoint at Tesco. Miss Eagles said he regretted his actions, and left the bag just outside the house with a note which said he was in debt, as well as giving his mobile phone number.
It said: "I am always worrying about money to feed my family. I owe you £300, please let me pay you."
Mrs Ashley reported the burglary to the police who arrested him. Adams was bailed and carried on working as a courier, enabling him to carry out the second raid.
He broke into a large country house at Higher Ashton, in the Teign Valley, where owner Caroline York returned to find his van in the drive and Adams returning from the side of the house.
He told her he was looking for an address nearby but she took the van's number.
Deri Matthews, defending, said Adams had succeeded in going straight for two years. He got off drugs, started a family life, and got a job.
"He made real progress but his relapse was brought about by debt," said Mr Matthews. "He owed thousands of pounds and bailiffs were calling at his door and temptation overcame him."