A LONGTOWN man has been jailed after he admitted burgling a Carlisle city centre hotel and stealing a valuable watch.

Mark George Kenney, 44, initially denied the offence, claiming that he had gone into the hotel to get water for a dog he was looking after.

But during an appearance before the city’s Crown Court, he changed his plea to guilty.

The court heard that the defendant committed the offence on April 20 after walking into the County Hotel on Botchergate.

Once inside, he went without permission into a manager’s office to retrieve room keys and they let himself into a room which was being used but the occupant was out at the time.

He then stole a watch belonging to the guest. It was valued at £8,000.

During legal discussions before Judge Michael Fanning, defence lawyer Jeff Smith put the case that the offence should be regarded as “non-dwelling.” This was ultimately accepted by the prosecution.

The distinction mattered because Kenney, who past crimes include commercial and dwelling house burglaries, was facing the risk of being given a “three strikes” minimum three year jail sentence.

It was only after the prosecution agreed not to treat the crime as a dwelling burglary that the defendant changed his plea to guilty. 

In March 2019, Kenney was jailed for burgling the Sands Centre in Carlisle. Said to be in an “utter mess at the time,” he was challenged by the police shortly after the crime and denied wrongdoing.

This was despite him having a stolen tea towel and electric screwdriver hanging out of his jacket at the time.

During Kenney’s latest court appearance, defence lawyer Jeff Smith told the judge that there was a drugs background to the offending.

Judge Fanning jailed the defendant, of Moor Road, Longtown, for two years and eight months, with part of that term being the activation of an earlier suspended sentence.

After the case, PC Kieran Salkeld, who worked on the investigation, said: “We take any burglary seriously. This one involved the taking of personal property and the targeting of a business in the city.

“Kenney now has time to reflect on his offending during a lengthy custodial sentence.

“If anyone sees anyone acting suspiciously or in a manner which suggests they could be targeting homes or businesses to burgle, we would always urge them to contact us as soon as possible