Axminster burglar jailed

Drug habit no excuse for crimes court tells Michael Taylor.

AN AXMINSTER teenager has been jailed for 16 months for burglaries and a theft in the town.

The court heard heroin addict Michael Taylor’s most serious offence was a burglary at Dolphins Nursery, in North Street, on June 1.

He pleaded guilty to all charges.

The 19-year-old smashed a kitchen window and stole items, including a digital photo frame with pictures of children on it. The nursery had to be closed for the day, affecting the owner’s income.

On May 26, the 19-year-old broke into Cloakham Lawns Sports Centre, setting off the alarm. He fled the scene, but caused �500 worth of damage and the victim described his actions as ‘mindless violence’.

He was later seen at an address in the town, enquiring about the owner’s dog and how vicious it was. He was found to have interfered with post at the property, including a bank statement.

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The court heard Taylor, of Ridgway Court, was subject to a community order imposed in April for a dwelling burglary and had to follow a drug rehabilitation requirement.

On October 20 of last year, he was given a conditional discharge by a court for 12 months, which he had breached – but no action was taken.

The court heard Taylor hoped to be housed at a fixed address with his father and other three brothers, but they had fallen out because of Taylor’s drug problems.

In mitigation, Michael Brabin asked Recorder JJ Wright not to impose the statutory minimum sentence for the burglary.

He said Taylor had carried out the offence with another male, another drug user, and they needed to feed their habits after their prescription failed to become effective.

He said the nursery appeared to be a commercial property and Taylor had only gone onto the ground floor and the goods were handed through the window.

He said: “That’s a particularly different situation to a classic dwelling house burglary.”

Mr Brabin added Taylor had kicked his drug habit, was doing a course in prison and should have a home available on his release from prison.

He said: “This is a young man with a vital drug problem and he’s fighting it very successfully at the moment. Throughout his period in prison he’s been clean and on an effective dose of methadone.

“He’s in a completely different place to that which he’s been in for the last 12 months.”

Recorder Wright said: “The problems you have had do not justify or excuse the crimes that you have committed.

“You have been made aware that, normally, one of these burglaries would have resulted for you, with your previous convictions, of a sentence of three years or more.

“But I have heard what’s been said on your behalf and I take all of that into account and, in all the circumstances, I don’t think it would be right to sentence you to the full three years.

“I think it would be unjustifiable, particularly having regard for your sensible approach and the steps you have taken to get off heroin and your success so far.”

The court said he was likely to serve half of his sentence, less the 70 days he had already served.

But he will be on licence when he is first released from prison and could be re-called to jail if he re-offends.

A victim of one of the burglaries, who does not wish to be named, criticised the sentence for being too lenient, but hoped Taylor would learn his lesson.

He said: “I hope he will kick his habit and come back into society.

“I think it should have been for a longer period in prison, but you have to forgive at some point. People can change.”