A man who paid a teenager to help him loot a Manchester property to fund his drug habit has been jailed on three counts of burglary today.
James Connors, 30, of no fixed abode, was handed a two-year sentence at Manchester Crown Court, half of which to be received on licence.
The since-recovered crack cocaine addict, already in custody for five-and-a-half months, pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary with intent.
The 17-year-old involved in one of the incidents also pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to a 12-month supervised Youth Rehabilitation Order and 100 hours of unpaid work.
Around £15,000 worth of goods had gone missing from five community-owned flats on Delaunays Road in Crumpsall, where Connors was caught fleeing on September 5 last year
His teenage accomplice was paid £20 to help Connors ‘pick up some bits’, and gave himself up after police threatened to release a dog into the property.
Officers had been notified by a suspicious plumber who was called by a neighbour about a water leak at the empty flats.
The plumber had seen a man loitering in the area the previous day, who gave the name ‘Paul Ainsley’.
Connors was apprehended as he tried to escape covered in dirt from condensing copper piping into portable pieces.
Mr Marsh, defending, argued Connors had no means of removing the valuable goods, including new boilers, but Judge Leeming ruled that he must have been involved to some extent.
In a separate incident, Connors gained entrance to a retirement home at Harry Piggott Court, Blackley on May 28 last year while the elderly female occupant was in hospital prior to moving in.
Ms Barber, prosecuting, said the tenant’s son had left the key in a safe, to which Connors knew the code as his father lived next door and was familiar with the former occupant.
CCTV showed Connors entering the flat with another person, having previously knocked on the door at around 9.15am.
He spent five minutes inside the property, but left empty-handed before returning just before one o’clock.
The next day, the occupant’s son reported £250 of jewellery and £350 of porcelain and crystal items stolen.
Connors, who has 19 previous convictions from 33 charges, had told police he entered the flat to make sure everything was all right.
Judge Leeming said: “You abused the trust you had knowing the safe key combination. It seems the valuable items were carefully selected.”
In a separate incident, Connors entered an unoccupied flat at Old School Court, Blackley.
The property, which had recently been refurbished, was advertised to let, and had been securely locked on August 10.
When an estate agent was showing a potential renter around on August 24, the property was described as ’destroyed’, with evidence of entry through a damaged window.
The owner missed out on months of possible rent to add to £1,500 worth of stolen goods and damage.
Ms Barber added that Connors also stole personal items of little value, including Manchester City programmes and signed memorabilia, and the defendant felt forced to change his bank details.
Connors told police he entered the property, which he considered abandoned, merely to sleep.
Picture courtesy of Firing up the quattro, with thanks.