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Sneak burglar preyed on premises across Durham to feed drug addiction
A NUISANCE sneak burglar was today (Friday August 30) jailed for 30 months following a recent catalogue of crime to help him acquire drugs.
John Peter James wandered into staff areas at a hospital and college premises in Durham to steal purses, lap-top computers and mobile phones to sell to help feed his addiction.
He also forced a collection container at Durham Cathedral to grab £35 donated by visitors to the World Heritage site.
Durham Crown Court heard that one of the burglaries, at the city’s Liberal Democrat party offices, in Old Elvet, from where he took a lap-top worth £470, took place less than three minutes after his release from the nearby prison.
Other similar crimes were committed at St Chad’s College, in South Bailey, on July 9, when he took a lap-top containing up to 6,000 words of research compiled by a post-graduate student, which has not been recovered, as well as at staff rooms at the ante-natal clinic at the city’s University Hospital of North Durham, and at New College, Durham, both on August 7.
Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said 32-year-old James was well known to police, having a record featuring 41 convictions for 98 offences, including 50 burglaries.
He was recognised on cctv at the scene of several of his crimes and arrested on August 8, just eight days after receiving a suspended 26-week prison sentence, for burglary at Durham City Tennis Club, in Framwellgate Moor, from where he took £123, on July 16.
James, of Woodland Crescent, Kelloe, near Durham, admitted four counts of burglary, one of theft and breaching the suspended sentence, imposed by magistrates on August 1.
Tony Hawks, mitigating, told today's crown court hearing:"He acknowledges the inevitability of the sentence today.
“It’s not a happy picture painted here, but he recognises these are mean offences causing distress and great inconvenience to members of the public.
“They are all desperate offences, lacking sophistication, often while already high on drugs.”
Mr Hawks told the court that such was James’ desperation to have the where-with-all to buy drugs that he even pawned his wife’s ring.
He said she is saving to try to afford to buy it back from the pawnbroker.
Mr Hawks said: “He knows prison is the best place for him to rid himself of his addiction and he’s voluntarily on a drug-free wing.”
“He feels contempt for himself, having been given chances previously and not taken them.”
Imposing consecutive sentences totalling two years and six months, Recorder Helen Proops told James: “You have embarked on a string of burglaries from non-residential premises to steal from people helping to provide services to the community.”
She added: “It seems as if you almost wanted to be caught and want to go to prison for a long time to rid yourself of your drug offending.”
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