Thief jailed after breaking his promise to go straight
Began stealing within three weeks of being free
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Court where an earlier lenient sentence of a three-year community order, for five burglaries and an attempted break-in, was revoked and replaced with a three-year jail term with another 12 months added consecutively for his latest light-fingered trickery.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