Burglar jailed after he admitted looting cottage between Honiton and Cullompton
PUBLISHED: 10:07 22 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:28 22 August 2017
Luke Howard stole almost £10,000 worth of valuables from a cottage in Plymtree - but cut his hand as he broke a rear window to get in.
A burglar with a guilty conscience handed himself into the police after realising he had left tell-tale DNA at the scene of his crime.
Luke Howard stole almost £10,000 worth of valuables from a cottage in Plymtree, between Honiton and Cullompton, but cut his hand as he broke a rear window to get in.
Exeter Crown Court heard Howard walked into Heavitree Road police station in Exeter ten days later and handed over a Tiffany jewellery box which contained some of the loot he had stolen.
He told police he had been desperate for money because he was homeless and needed to raise cash to put a roof over his head.
The owners of the cottage had put it on the market and were living elsewhere but returned to find it burgled when they returned with their two children to check it.
Among the items stolen and not recovered were their silver christening bracelets.
Howard, aged 32, formerly of Newton Road, Torquay, admitted burglary and was jailed for two years and eight months by Judge Geoffrey Mercer, QC.
He is a repeat offender who was subject to a minimum sentence of three years, less a discount for his guilty plea, under the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule.
The judge told him:”The property was unoccupied but you went there and stole a considerable amount of property including jewellery and items such as christening bracelets which were of great sentimental value to the family.
“The house owners and their children went to the cottage and found their home had been burgled and one can only imagine the impact that had on them, particularly the children.”
Miss Felicity Payne, prosecuting, said Howard burgled the cottage on July 9 but the break in was only discovered three days later when the owners went to check the house.
They found a back window broken and the French doors leading from the kitchen forced open. A 50 inch television, a Nintendo games console and a large amount of jewellery had been taken.
The total value was just under £10,000 but some was handed into police by Howard in a Tiffany box when he went to Heavitree police station to confess.
Miss Payne said:”He told the police he was aware he had left blood at the scene which would led to his identification but that he also regretted having committed the offence, which he said was an act of desperation because he needed money for rent.”
Miss Bathsheba Cassel, defending, said:”He deserves credit for identifying himself to the police and handing himself in. He knew the property was unoccupied and there was no danger of a confrontation with the owners.
“He expressed regret and remorse. At the time he was homeless and he burgled the premises to pay for a roof over his head.
“He has mental health issues and was trying hard to stay out of trouble but, being homeless, he made a foolish decision.
“He wants to stress this offence had nothing to do with alcohol or drugs because he has conquered those demons and not used either for a year.”