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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Cumbrian handyman burgled couple he was working for

A handyman who burgled the home of a couple he was working for has been given an eight-month jail term.

But a judge at Carlisle Crown Court suspended the sentence for two years after hearing that Michael Ash was capable of resisting crime if he was in a stable relationship.

Ash, 40, of Well Lane, Maryport, pleaded guilty to burgling the property at Allonby last year, and to illegally extracting £135 of electricity from his home’s supply by bypassing the meter.

Gerard Rogerson, prosecuting, told the court how Ash was hired by the couple after they advertised for a handyman because they were renovating their property.

On June 25, the man of the house went out for a walk and a little while later Ash texted his wife to ask if he had left the house.

She felt his messages were odd but agreed that he could come round to the house for a cup of tea.

While he was at the house, said Mr Rogerson, the woman had mentioned she planned to meet her husband for lunch.

When the couple got home later that afternoon, they discovered the husband’s Toshiba laptop, worth £500, was missing and contacted the police.

The alarm was raised by a former partner of Ash’s after he asked her to “clean up” a computer – the one he had stolen, though he claimed he bought it at a car boot sale.

She became suspicious when she saw Ash was keeping it inside his cooker.

When interviewed by police, Ash said he couldn’t afford to heat his home. He said that was why he had rigged up his meter to bypass it.

The court heard how Ash has a long criminal record, with 124 offences including thefts and frauds.

Laura Nash, for the defendant, said his history showed that he had turned to offending in the past when going through difficult times. She added: “When he is in work and in a long-term, stable relationship, he simply doesn’t offend.”

He came to Cumbria to escape a “wrong crowd” and had worked as a bar manager, and on the Distington bypass as a banksman.

As well as imposing the suspended jail term, Judge Forrester ordered him to complete 300 hours of unpaid work and compensate the electricity company whose power he stole. The value of the electricity and the cost of the damaged equipment was £1,056.

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