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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Burglar who targeted Cumbrian widower jailed

A former heroin addict who burgled an “extremely vulnerable” widower has been jailed for more than four years.

Gary Petre photo
Gary Petre, of Maryport: Jailed for four and a half years after he pleaded guilty to burglary and stealing a jacket from a car. The court heard he had 47 previous convictions.

Related: ‘Fagin’ burglar told by Carlisle court he faces long jail spell

Gary Petre, 37, of Buttermere Road in Maryport, broke into the pensioner’s home in the dead of night with a young apprentice in tow.

In a witness statement victim Michael Parker from Newlands Gardens in Workington, who had shared the house with his late wife, said that the break-in had left him feeling “isolated” and “angry”.

He said that he was now looking for a top-floor flat which he believe would be safer.

He added that the burglary had made him feel “trapped in his own home”, had “turned his world upside down” and that the happy memories he had shared there with his family had gone as a result.

Cumbria’s top judge – Paul Batty QC, the Honorary Recorder of Carlisle previously likened Petre to the villain Fagin – a thief who recruited juvenile criminals – from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.

But yesterday he revised his opinion, comparing him instead to the Bill Sikes who appears in the same novel and intimidates youngsters into doing his bidding.

He said: “It would probably be more accurate to describe you as Bill Sikes who took along a juvenile when he committed offences in the dead of night.”

Judge Batty said: “When I first considered this case earlier in the week, I indicated that I required a victim impact statement because this case struck me as being one where there was potential for profound effects so far as the householder was concerned.

“Those suspicions have been borne out.

“The householder is in his mid-sixties living on his own and coming to terms with the death of his wife, and you and a juvenile attacked his premises in the dead of night not once but twice.

“You are a disgrace.”

He said that a previous term of imprisonment for robbery obviously had not deterred him in any way, shape or form.

The court heard that Petre, who has 47 previous convictions, had taken a mobile telephone, several fishing rods and reels and a pen knife when he broke in through a living room window on June 9 this year.

An aggravating feature of the burglary was that it has been committed while the defendant was on bail.

Marion Weir, defending, said that her client had shown remorse and “felt extremely sorry for this man.”

She added that he was a former heroin addict but had been clean for two years. He had stolen the items, she said, to sell them “to have some money on which to live.”

She asked for his early guilty plea to be taken into account.

But jailing him for four and a half years, Judge Batty only gave him a quarter credit for an early guilty plea.

He said that Petre only admitted the offence when his juvenile accomplice had made a statement implicating him the burglary.

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