Crooked rambler spared jail

Tuesday, February 26, 2013
11.28 AM

But he will be back behind bars if life in his bedsit does not work out.

A Goldilocks burglar, who spent four months walking down a coastal path and surviving by breaking into other people’s caravans and eating their food, has been spared jail.

Alan Campbell started his 100 mile trek in Dorset and stayed there for most of last summer before moving on to East Devon, then Dartmouth before ending up in Aveton Gifford in South Devon.

He broke into a total of 82 caravans at 15 sites and only gave himself up in November when winter set in and he opted for the warmth of a prison cell.

Campbell spent several nights in many of the seaside caravan sites, moving from pitch to pitch and staying until the supplies of food and drink ran out.

Horrified owners arrived for weekends by the seaside to find that someone had been sleeping in their bed and the cupboard was bare.

He escaped jail today (Tuesday) after a judge heard how he has finally settled down in a bedsit in Exeter where he is now living on benefits after being released from custody.

His route through Dorset took in caravan sites at Weymouth, West Bexington, Portesham, Burton Bradstock, Wareham and Chideock.

He moved into East Devon and burgled caravans at Rousden, Colyton, Salcombe Regis, Sidmouth, Ladram Bay, and Castle Brake on Woodbury Common.

He moved on down the coast to Dartmouth before spending his last night of freedom at Aveton Gifford, near Kingsbridge.

Campbell started his trek after being released from prison for previous thefts and ended it back in jail when his licence was revoked and he was recalled to finish his earlier sentence.

Campbell, 39, of Okehampton Street, Exeter, admitted two burglaries and asked for 80 to be considered.

He was jailed for 12 months, suspended for two years, by Judge Phillip Wassall at Exeter Crown Court with a £100 victim surcharge.

The judge told him: “You have made considerable inroads in dealing with the accommodation problems which have been at the back of these offences, as well as other issues such as gambling and alcohol.

“I remain concerned about the problems you have with managing money and other difficulties.

“I am persuaded that you have done sufficient to turn your life around and are well motivated. There has to be a sentence of imprisonment. These are burglaries of caravans and we have two specimen counts and 80 cases taken into consideration.

“The root of the offending was lack of accommodation and sometimes food. I think the appropriate sentence is 12 months, but I shall suspend it because of the positive efforts you have made to set yourself straight.

“I am satisfied you want to do this on your own but there is help there for you if you need it. It is a good sign that you have used this help to get accommodation.

“If you offend again you will basically be sentencing yourself to 12 months in jail plus whatever you get for the new offence.”

Miss Janice Eagles, prosecuting, applied for a total of £645 compensation, which does not represent the full amount that Campbell stole but refers to valuable fishing gear he stole in Rousdon, East Devon, and food he took at Castle Brake, Woodbury.

Mr David Bowen, prosecuting, told an earlier hearing: “All these 82 offences relate to burglaries of static caravans which were unoccupied at the time.

“Each resulted in a small amount of foodstuffs being taken and in some instances damage being caused as the result of entering the caravan. They range in area from Weymouth to Aveton Gifford.

“He went along the coast staying at 13 different sites. He helped himself to food and drink inside the caravans and took some personal equipment.

“It came to light because he handed himself in to police in November and made full admissions to all the offences. This was a concerted campaign of burglary committed over a period of time.”

He said Campbell has one conviction for dwelling house burglary, six for non dwelling burglary, 11 for theft, two for taking cars and three for deception and was on prison licence at the time of these offences.

Mr Nick Bradley, defending, said the break ins were Campbell’s survival strategy after finding himself homeless on his release from an earlier jail sentence.

He said: “He has now received help from a homeless project in Exeter and has been able to find accommodation in the city where he is now living on £62 a week benefits, plus a £40 a week top up and is able to claim housing benefit.

“He has resolved the housing situation with the help of two police officers who have been very pro active and given him assistance and