Bur­glar with 160 of­fences is given an­other chance by judge

‘Come back and I’ll sen­tence you for as long as pos­si­ble’

Loughborough Echo - - NEWS - SUZY GIB­SON

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

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