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Saturday, 12 July 2014

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

A middle-aged burglar has been likened to “Fagin” for the way he took along a 16-year-old accomplice when he broke into a house in west Cumbria.

Cumbria’s top judge – Paul Batty QC, the Honorary Recorder of Carlisle – made the allusion to Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist villain after hearing how 37-year-old Gary Steven Petre was accompanied by the teenager when he broke into the house in Newlands Garden, Workington.

Yet, ironically, it was because of his link with the younger man that the burglar with a “formidable” criminal record was arrested.

By coincidence, the police called at the boy’s home on the day after the burglary because of problems he was causing for his parents.

While there the youth told them that the night before he had been out with Petre, breaking into the house and stealing from a car.

Police then went to the house where Petre was staying and found most of the stuff he had taken – including two jackets, a mobile phone, four fishing rodsand a pen-knife.

Prosecutor Dick Binstead said the victim, 64-year-old Michael Baker, had been woken at about 1am on June 9 by the sound of his living room window being forced open. He went to investigate and saw the two men outside. Mr Baker went to call the police but found he couldn’t because Petre had taken his mobile.

Instead, Mr Baker had to walk for half an hour to his nearest police station to raise the alarm.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Petre, who has more than 30 convictions for theft, pleaded guilty to burglary – his third such offence – and stealing a jacket and £5 from David Paynter’s car.

Judge Batty adjourned the hearing until tomorrow.

Petre, who has no fixed address, was remanded in custody.

The judge told Petre: “You are going to prison for a considerable period of time, but before I decide how long that is I want to hear from the householder and find out about the impact this disgraceful offence has had on him.”

The boy has been dealt with by the Youth Court.

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