Ottery man who fled court during Honiton burglary trial is found guilty and jailed in his absence
PUBLISHED: 10:49 15 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:49 15 January 2018
A burglar who fled court half-way through his trial has been jailed in his absence after being found guilty of a 'mean' break-in.
Joshua Richards stole £1,560 cash from a client who had given him work as a gardener after seeing that she had the money in a drawer on previous visits.
It left victim Daniella Ullah struggling to pay her rent after he let himself into her home in Honiton and snatched the money.
Richards tried to avoid justice by claiming to be ill on the day set down for his trial last year. He tried the same trick again on the second day of his trial at Exeter Crown Court.
The judge called his bluff and ordered that a police officer accompany him to hospital for a check-up, which concluded he was fit to continue with the trial.
He was brought back to court and the case was about to restart when he ran out of the front door of the court and was seen legging it up the road as fast as his legs would carry him.
Richards, aged 26, of Gold Street, Ottery St Mary, denied burglary but was found guilty and jailed for two years by Recorder Mr Timothy Grice.
The judge also issued a warrant for Richards’ immediate arrest and said he will consider adding extra time to the sentence for jumping bail.
He said: “This was a mean and nasty offence against someone who he would have known needed the money. It was a gross breach of trust. He is a young man with a bad record.”
During the trial, the jury heard how Richards had done gardening work for single mother Ms Ullah previously and seen where she kept her money in a drawer in the kitchen of her home in Chapel Street, Honiton.
He was due to work for her on July 27 last year, but sneaked in through an insecure front door and, instead of joining her in the garden, he took the money and went home.
He turned up later, but when she challenged him about the missing money and threatened to call the police, he walked out.
The court heard Richards had told a friend that he planned to steal the money and showed her the envelope full of cash after carrying out the raid.
Richards did a runner before he had a chance to tell his version of events. When interviewed by police, he denied knowing that money was kept in the drawer or taking it.