Former Honiton man stole student’s laptop

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A former Honiton man has been jailed for breaking into a newly arrived student’s room while she was out at a Freshers Week party.

Stuart Fowler. Picture: DCP

Stuart Fowler. Picture: DCP - Credit: Archant

The 19-year-old female student was so shocked by the loss of her brand new laptop that she almost quit her course at Exeter University before it had started.

Intruder Stuart Fowler is a career criminal with 95 previous offences who specialises in targeting student halls of residence all over Britain because they were soft targets.

He managed to open an insecure window in the student's room at Northfields in New North Road, Exeter, and reach in to steal a brand new Macbook and an iPad which had a combined value of £1,850.

The student had only been in Exeter for five days when he carried out the burglary at around midnight on September 21. She returned to her room at 2.30 am to find it had been broken into.

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Fowler, aged 41, originally from Honiton but now of no fixed abode, admitted burglary and was jailed for two years and five months by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: "You have never met the young lady who was the victim of your latest burglary. You had been released from prison and had a problem with drugs. In order to fund that, you burgled this accommodation.

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"She had just started her university life in Exeter and you ruined her first few weeks and caused her to consider whether to stay here or return home. Happily, she chose to continue her studies but this will be at the back of her mind for a long time.

Rob Yates, prosecuting, said the burglary took place when the student was out with friends and Fowler reached though the window. He left a fingerprint on the window and was seen on CCTV in a distinctive coat in the area at the time of the raid.

The student made a Victim Impact Statement which said: "I am devastated that someone went into my room and stole my property. My personal space has been violated. At first I wanted to go home.

"I no longer feel safe in the halls of residence but with the support of my family and friends I have been able to move on. The iPad had irreplaceable photos on it."

Barry White, defending, said Fowler had spent so much of his adult life in jail that he was institutionalised and unable to cope when on the outside.

He said: "What he needs is a drug rehabilitation order with intensive supervision but he is not eligible for that because he has no address. This is not so much a plea of mitigation as a howl of despair."

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