A WHITEHAVEN woman who left her former partner because of his long-standing drink problem returned home to find he had burgled her property - and stolen her dog.

The burglary committed by 35-year-old Daniel Rafferty in September last year was part of an offending spree, which had also included him assaulting police officers, using a length of wood as an offensive weapon, and setting fire to a wheelie bin.

The defendant, of Meadow Road, Whitehaven, admitted burglary, arson, illegally carrying an offensive weapon, and twice assaulting an emergency worker.

At Carlisle Crown Court, prosecutor Tim Evans described each of the offences in turn.

Rafferty first came to the attention of the police in the early hours of July 16 last year, when he was seen walking around Whitehaven town centre with a four-feet long piece of wood.

He was using it to strike plant pots. At the time, 1.45am, the area was busy with people leaving pubs and clubs.

When a police officer approached Rafferty and told him to drop the plank, he refused and instead raised it to shoulder height with both hands, threatening the officer.

Because the feared violence, the officer used pava spray on Rafferty and overpowered him.

Outlining the burglary, Mr Evans said that Rafferty and his former partner had split up because of his drinking but on the afternoon of September 23 last year he turned up at her home, smelling of alcohol.

“She closed the door on him but he in effect hung around outside,” said Mr Evans.

“She told him that if he didn’t leave she would ring the police and she then asked her mother if she could bring her children to her address.” The defendant remained in the area, looking at the woman’s house.

The woman did call the police. When she returned to her home later that day, she noticed that her living room window was open and a wheelie bin had been moved near to it, allowing access to the window.

Mr Evans said: “She went inside and found that her dog was missing.” The woman and her dog were reunited a short time later after police tracked down Rafferty.

A neighbour later confirmed seeing Rafferty going into he property and then leaving with the dog.” The barrister then outlined how after his arrest Rafferty had damaged a police safety suit he was given to wear.

While being moved out of his cell, he also spat at an officer, his spittle landing on the man’s leg.

A few days after those last offences, Rafferty went to Whitehaven Police Station and reported that he had set fire to a wheelie bin in School House Lane and he was duly arrested.

He has been in custody ever since.

The court heard that Rafferty has 13 previous offences on his record, including an actual bodily harm assault and being drunk and disorderly. Mr Evans characterised the record has consisting of “drink-related” and “temper” offences.

Sean Harkin, defending, said that the defendant’s decision to report his own arson offence showed his thinking was “clearly impaired by his mental health.”

Rafferty’s alcohol use had aggravated his problems.

The lawyer said: “He’s used his time in custody constructively. He wants to get out and lead a law-abiding life. Clearly something has gone very wrong to cause him to commit these offences.

He’s not used to spending time in prison and it’s not an experience he wants to repeat.”

Referring to the emergency worker assaults, Recorder Julian Shaw said there was a clear pattern of behaviour, commenting: “It’s unpleasant and it’s unnecessary.

"Emergency workers – particularly police officers – are entitled to be protected from this kind of unpleasant assault.”

The judge imposed a total of 53 weeks jail. He also approved a three-year restraining order which bans Rafferty from having any direct or indirect contact with the burglary victim. Nor can he go to the road in Whitehaven where she lives.