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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Man gave Cumbria police tour of properties he had burgled

A prisoner who was already in jail for burgling one house took police on a tour to show them all the other properties he had broken into, a court has heard.

Jamie Johnston, 19, was sent to a young offenders’ institution for 28 months in May for burgling an elderly man’s house in Whitehaven in the middle of the night.

At the time the police did not realise he was also responsible for 10 other break-ins in the same area.

And it was only after he told a prison officer about them that police were able to arrest him again and question him about them too.

As a result the teenager was taken for a drive around the area in a police car, pointing out all the other places he could remember burgling.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Johnston, who has no fixed address, pleaded guilty to three more burglaries and asked for seven other such offences to be taken into consideration.

Prosecutor Alan Lovett said that without Johnston’s help the police would probably never have known he was responsible for all the burglaries.

“He made some very full and frank admissions,” he said.

Mr Lovett told the court that Johnston now admitted breaking into a house in Woodhouse Road, Whitehaven, in April and stealing a mobile phone.

The woman owner returned home just in time to see Johnston – disguised under a hoodie – leaving her house and climbing over a fence in her back garden.

“It really scared her,” he said.

Johnston also admitted burgling a house in Westcroft Terrace – possibly while the woman who lived there was in the bath – and stealing a laptop computer, and stealing a chain saw and strimmer from a shed in High Harrington.

In mitigation, defence barrister Marion Weir said that if Johnston had not told the prison officer he had “something to tell him” he would never have been charged with all the burglaries.

“They were not just empty words,” she said.

Several of the burglaries had not even been reported to the police, she said, because the householders had been embarrassed about leaving their doors open.

“He’s here in court only because of his candour,” she said.

Johnston was jailed for 32 months, which he will start serving immediately, alongside the 28 months imposed on him in May.

This means that in effect he will have served a 35 month sentence – which, the judge calculated, is the sentence that would have been imposed if all the offences had been dealt with together in May.

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