Thief jailed af­ter break­ing his prom­ise to go straight

Be­gan steal­ing within three weeks of be­ing free

Loughborough Echo - - LETTERS - SUZY GIB­SON

A PUB­LIC men­ace ‘wed­ded to a life­style of crime’ broke his prom­ise to a judge to go straight by steal­ing within three weeks of be­ing given the biggest break in his crim­i­nal ca­reer.

Per­sis­tent bur­glar and thief, Dar­ren Val­lance, who has 160 crimes on his record, was told his ac­tions had “spread mis­ery” to count­less vic­tims over the years.

At his last court ap­pear­ance, in No­vem­ber, he sin­cerely as­sured Judge Martin Hurst of his good in­ten­tions, say­ing: “Thank you for giv­ing me this op­por­tu­nity and I won’t let you down, or my­self or my son.”

But within 21 days at lib­erty he was back to his old ways - when caught help­ing him­self to bot­tles of spir­its from Browns Lane Restau­rant and Bar, in Lough­bor­ough.

Val­lance, 45, was hauled be­fore the same judge at Le­ices­ter Crown Court where an ear­lier le­nient sen­tence of a three-year com­mu­nity or­der, for five bur­glar­ies and an at­tempted break-in, was re­voked and re­placed with a three-year jail term with an­other 12 months added con­sec­u­tively for his lat­est light-fin­gered trick­ery.

The ear­lier of­fences - when he was mer­ci­fully spared jail - in­cluded sneak­ily steal­ing from staff work­ing at a nurs­ing home, a li­brary, two ho­tels and a restau­rant.

It in­volved him mak­ing off with hand­bags, purses, mo­bile phones, con­tact­less bank cards and an en­gage­ment ring, be­tween May and Septem­ber.

Jail­ing him for a to­tal of four years for all the of­fences, Judge Hurst said: “You’ve an ap­palling crim­i­nal record, of which 99 of­fences are for theft and kin­dred mat­ters and 11 for fraud and like of­fences.

“The vast ma­jor­ity are for com­mer­cial bur­glar­ies.

“That’s how you live your life and make your liv­ing; by walk­ing into premises and steal­ing what you can find.

“You were re­leased from prison on April 16 last year, but were com­mit­ting of­fences by May 11 and were at large un­til Septem­ber 11, when you were re­manded into cus­tody.

“On No­vem­ber 1, I re­leased you by im­pos­ing a three year com­mu­nity or­der for six of­fences.

“Hav­ing been re­leased you then com­mit­ted an­other walk-in bur­glary within three weeks.

“You’re a men­ace and a per­sis­tent of­fender.

“You have an un­quench­able ad­dic­tion to class A drugs and I was told at the last hear­ing you have a gam­bling ad­dic­tion as well.

“You seek to pay for those by spread­ing mis­ery to the peo­ple of the East Mid­lands.

“You used an Audi to travel around tar­get­ing premises and also wore a high vis­i­bil­ity vest to cloak your­self in an air of re­spon­si­bil­ity and le­git­i­macy.”

The judge said: “On the last occa- sion I was per­suaded to im­pose upon you a com­mu­nity or­der with six months of drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, 300 hours of un­paid work and a 10 day ac­tiv­ity re­quire­ment.”

Judge Hurst also re­minded Val­lance, of Maple Road, Lough­bor­ough: “I told you all breaches of the court orders were re­served to me and for a sin­gle breach I’d lock you up for as long as I can.

“De­spite that clear warn­ing you were at Browns Restau­rant and went in to steal two bot­tles of spir­its.

“You’ve spurned ev­ery ef­fort in your di­rec­tion for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.

“You’re wed­ded to your life­style of crime and con­tinue to re-of­fend and wreak mis­ery.”

The judge said he wanted to con­fis­cate Val­lance’s Audi, which was used to travel to and from the crime scenes, but the de­fen­dant an­nounced that he “sold it” af­ter his last of­fence, be­fore be­ing re­manded into cus­tody.

Judge Hurst said Val­lance could be prose­cuted for per­jury or per­vert­ing the course of jus­tice, if he was ly­ing about hav­ing sold his mo­tor car.

Val­lance, who ap­peared via a live video link from prison, ad­mit­ted steal­ing two bot­tle of spir­its from the restau­rant on No­vem­ber 22.

Jonathan Dunne, pros­e­cut­ing, said restau­rant staff ini­tially thought Val­lance was bor­row­ing the bot­tles of spir­its, on be­half of a nearby es­tab­lish­ment that had run out - but then re­alised he was a thief.

Val­lance’s crime spree last year 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.

When chal­lenged, the de­fen­dant made an ex­cuse about want­ing di­rec­tions - but the em­ployee knew who he was and that he lived nearby. He left empty handed.

The of­fences he was re-sen­tenced for 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.

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.

He has pre­vi­ously been given drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion in 2013 and 2016.

Nicola Moore, mit­i­gat­ing, said: “He hasn’t sought to shy away from re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“He has a con­sis­tent and ap­palling record for non-do­mes­tic bur­glar­ies, all of low value.”

Miss Moore said when the de­fen­dant was re­leased on No­vem­ber 1 he had come off Methadone and was left wait­ing three weeks for a pre­scrip­tion for an­other heroin sub­sti­tute, Subu­tex, which was not forth­com­ing be­fore his re­solve weak­ened.

Le­ices­ter Crown Court

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