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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Homeless man was ‘disgrace’ for Carlisle raids

A HOMELESS man given a last chance to turn his life around has been branded ‘an absolute disgrace’ after burgling two hotels just days later.

Simon Robert Highmore was given a community order by Judge Paul Batty QC when he appeared at Carlisle Crown Court last month for burgling staff quarters at the city's railway station.

Probation staff and other agencies "bent over backwards" to help him avoid a prison sentence, Judge Batty said, but, 11 days later, he tried to rifle through a till at the Swallow Hilltoop hotel and stole 11 bottles of spirits from The County Hotel on Botchergate.

Highmore, who admitted burglary and attempted burglary when he appeared in court yesterday, was ‘an absolute disgrace’, the judge said.

“You emerged from a sentence of custody imposed in December 2010 and, within a few days, you were burgling the staff quarters of the railway station,” he said.

“You appeared before me and, whilst custody was virtually inevitable, I felt it was worth giving you a chance. There was literally no room at the inn, there was no bed available for you at the hostels in this city, but I urged the probation service to find one. Everyone worked so hard to try and help you.”

Prosecutor Alan Lovett said staff at the Swallow Hilltop, on London Road, alerted staff after seeing someone get behind the staff area at around 8pm on November 13.

CCTV footage showed a man trying to open the till, he said.

“[Half an hour later] Mr Wilkins was on duty at the County Hotel when he noticed the bar door was open," he said. "He found 11 bottles of spirits worth £175 had been taken.”

Highmore, who his defence barrister said had a problem with alcohol and was upset at losing contact with his three-year-old daughter, was identified from CCTV and arrested.

“For a 23-year-old your record for burglary is as bad as one can imagine,” Judge Batty said.

He said he made 'flagrant' breaches of court orders and jailed him for 16 months.

He was also ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.

“The community order which I so hoped would work, obviously hasn't, so it will be revoked,” the judge added.

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