A MASKED burglar who raided a house with a hammer was asked by a Worcester judge how he would feel if someone did the same thing to his ‘terrified’ girlfriend and her child.
Former drug addict Justin Nash who has a string of burglary convictions appeared at Worcester Crown Court over videolink on Friday to be sentenced for another burglary.
The 39-year-old was told to ‘grow up’ by judge Andrew Lockhart QC after the raid at a home within a gated community during which he and an unidentified accomplice made off with a haul of cash, jewellery and handbags.
Nash of no fixed abode admitted the burglary at Butterwick Close, Barnt Green, near Bromsgrove on February 4 this year during which both burglars stole £1,100 in property and £660 in cash.
The burglary cost more than £1,500, not including the damage Nash and his accomplice caused breaking in.
Michael Conry, prosecuting, said the five bedroom detached house was left secure with the CCTV system showing the homeowner’s daughter leaving the property.
Just 11 minutes later the camera captures Nash and his accomplice entering the garden carrying hammers. “It’s clear the hammer was used to break the glass to the rear patio doors to get into the house” said Mr Conry.
The faces of both men were covered and both were wearing gloves which judge Lockhart said showed higher culpability as the burglary was planned, targeted and both men were equipped for it.
The defendant was identified forensically by way of a blood-stained piece of glass.
Mr Conry read out a victim personal statement from the homeowner who said: “This has left my family feeling insecure, vulnerable and has changed our quality of life for the worse.”
She went on to say that her adult children felt unsafe at home and had urged her to move, saying they felt the burglars had been ‘stalking us’. The family also had to pay for the damage caused when Nash and his accomplice broke in and the homeowner had to take time off work as a result.
“The damage caused by this incident will take years to recover from both emotionally and economically” said the homeowner. Neighbours have also invested in extra security measures as a result of what happened to the family.
The defendant has 17 convictions for 36 offences including burglaries of houses and commercial premises, car key burglaries and dangerous driving.
Amanda O’Mara, defending, asked that her client be given full credit for his early guilty plea and that he had wanted a prison sentence ‘to sort myself out in respect of my alcohol and cocaine use’.
“He doesn’t appear to have grown out of the hedonistic lifestyle which began in his late teenage years” she told the court.
Miss O’Mara said her client did not take the cash or jewellery but had accepted he would be sentenced on that basis, describing how on the weekend of the burglary he had spent all his money on alcohol and cocaine and on the way back decided to target the house to get more money.
Judge Lockhart said ‘they just went out with a hammer?’ Miss O’Mara said the hammer was already in the car and Nash had wrapped a t-shirt around his head to act as a balaclava. She said he was now sober and drug free and had been undertaking courses in prison.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told Nash: “Just because no-one is there, it does not mean this is a victimless crime. I just want you to think how you would feel if you were in custody now and had a phone call from your girlfriend, ringing you up saying ‘a man came into our house and our child was upstairs – they rifled through our belongings and I’m utterly terrified’. Just think for a moment how you would feel.”
The judge said: “You have done nothing in your life to contribute to society. It’s time to grow up. You’re nearly 40.”
The defendant said over the link: “I would just like to apologise to the victims.”
Judge Lockhart, who said Nash had not learned from a previous three year prison sentence, advised him to write the family a letter of apology.
The defendant said he could not write but the judge said he could always get help to write the letter while in prison.
Judge Lockhart jailed Nash for 18 months.