Burglar with 160 offences is given another chance by judge
‘Come back and I’ll sentence you for as long as possible’
A BURGLAR with 160 offences on his record has been given a chance by a judge, promising not to let him down.
Darren Vallance stole from staff at a nursing home, a library, two hotels and a restaurant but has been spared jail.
The 45-year-old pleaded guilty to five burglaries and an attempted burglary, when handbags, purses, mobile phones, contactless bank cards and an engagement ring were stolen, between May and September.
Leicester Crown Court was told Vallance’s latest crime spree came to an end when a vigilant member of staff at Longcliffe Care Home, Nanpantan Road, Loughborough, caught him trying to enter the premises via a fire escape.
Christopher Jeyes, prosecuting, said, when challenged, the defendant made an excuse about wanting directions - but she knew who he was and that he lived nearby. He left empty handed.
The police later found him asleep in his silver grey Audi car, outside his home in Maple Road, Loughborough. The vehicle had been spotted in the vicinity of his earlier offences and inside was a high visibility jacket that he had worn during some of the burglaries to create an air of credibility as a worker on the premises.
The offences began on May 11 when he trespassed at Donington Park Farmhouse Hotel in Castle Donington. He stole £120 worth of champagne and wine and a chef’s belongings, including keys and a debit card which was used several times for contactless purchases at stores.
On May 14 he committed a similar offence at the Toby Carvery in Loughborough, and tried to fob off a member of staff with excuses before leaving with bank cards used to obtain more than £800 in cash and purchases.
Vallance later trespassed into a
learning suite at Loughborough Library where he stole two mobile phones belonging to two female tutors during their Skills For Life adult learning sessions.
Mr Jeyes said the victims were left “shocked” and “distressed,” by the thefts, but stalwartly continued giving lessons that day.
On August 26, Vallance went into Scalford Court Nursing Home, in Melton, and took handbags belonging to two carers, one containing £100 worth of items and the other two mobile phones and an engagement ring.
On September 1, Vallance burgled the Link Hotel, in Loughborough, where he stole three pounds and some tobacco from handbags in a locker room.
Mr Jeyes said: “He has a lamentable record of 160 offences, of which 99 are for theft and kindred offences. ”
He had previously been given drug rehabilitation in 2013 and 2016.
His criminal record included numerous walk-in thefts, handling stolen goods and burglaries of establishments such as pubs and hotels.
Vallance, who appeared via a live video link from HMP Leicester where he was on remand for six weeks, was set free by the judge, who imposed a three-year community order, with 300 hours of unpaid work, and a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
He was ordered to undergo six months of drug rehabilitation.
Judge Martin Hurst said: “The public has to be protected from you and there are two choices; to give you as long as I can in prison or to give you a chance to beat your drug addiction.
“If you breach the court’s orders you’ll be back in front of me (to be re-sentenced) and I won’t accept any excuses for a single breach.
“The starting point for each of these offences is two years and it would protect the public while you’re inside.
“Do the order, don’t breach it, kick your habit and see your son - or come back in front of me and I will give you as long as possible.
“You understand how it works, you’ve been round this block enough times.”
Vallance told the judge: “Thank you for giving me this opportunity and I won’t let you down, or myself or my son.”
James Armstrong-Holmes, mitigating, said Vallance had been battling with an £80-a-day crackcocaine and heroin addiction as well as a gambling addiction.
The judge said: “He didn’t do very well at drug rehabilitation last time.”
Mr Armstrong-Holmes said: “No, I asked him about that and in 2013 he engaged quite well and got himself clean.
“The last occasion (2016) he just kept relapsing and when he relapses offending takes place.
“They weren’t sophisticated offences and all were committed at premises open and accepting of customers; he went in and tried his luck.
“It’s a sign of his desperation that he was using his own car (to attend the crime scenes) in the knowledge there would be CCTV cameras. He was stealing to fund his addiction.
“It’s led to the breakdown of his relationship with the mother of his six-year-old son... and now he has a son he wants to work hard to facilitate that; he knows if he doesn’t get clean he’ll never see his son.”
Leicester Crown Court