Stu­dent caught bur­glar try­ing to steal his lap­top

SNEAKY SMITH BROKE IN TO UNIVER­SITY DIGS IN DEAD OF NIGHT

The Chronicle - - News - By ROB KENNEDY Court re­porter [email protected]­plc.com @Chron­i­cleCourt Michael Bunch

A SHOCKED stu­dent was left ter­ri­fied af­ter finding a bur­glar creep­ing around his home in the dead of night.

David Smith had sneaked into stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion in New­cas­tle and found his way into the digs of one teenager.

A court heard how the vic­tim heard his front door open­ing at 1.50am and was pet­ri­fied at see­ing Smith lurk­ing in his liv­ing room, eyeing up a lap­top.

The 48-year-old se­rial crook, who has 169 pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions, ad­mit­ted bur­glary but has now been al­lowed to keep his free­dom.

Prose­cu­tor Michael Bunch said the break in hap­pened at the Rialto Build­ing, off New Bridge Street, in the early hours of Septem­ber 17.

He told New­cas­tle Crown Court: “He heard a noise which he recog­nised as the sound of his front door open­ing.

“He called out to see if he could il­licit a re­sponse and when he got no an­swer, he got up and walked to­wards the liv­ing room.

“He was able to see a man in the cor­ner close to a desk where his lap­top was lo­cated.”

The stu­dent shouted “What are you do­ing” and Smith started to walk to­wards the door, apol­o­gis­ing and telling the vic­tim to calm down be­fore leav­ing. Po­lice were in­formed and the stu­dent was shown a num­ber of im­ages of pos­si­ble cul­prits and picked out Smith, who ad­mit­ted plan­ning to steal the lap­top when ar­rested.

Smith, of no fixed ad­dress, pleaded guilty to bur­glary and was sen­tenced to eight months sus­pended for 18 months with a four-month cur­few.

He is al­ready on a com­mu­nity or­der with a drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion re­quire­ment, im­posed a month ago by mag­is­trates for fraud and theft, which he was on bail for at the time of the bur­glary.

Steven Reed, de­fend­ing, said Smith had been com­ply­ing with the com­mu­nity or­der and wants to get off drugs.

Judge Sarah Mal­lett said: “I think it would be counter-pro­duc­tive if I didn’t give him the op­por­tu­nity to suc­ceed, which could make such a big dif­fer­ence to his fu­ture and there­fore be to ev­ery­body’s else’s ben­e­fit.”

The judge told Smith: “I’m go­ing to give you the ben­e­fit of the doubt to­day and I hope you turn your life around.”

He heard a noise which he recog­nised as the sound of his front door open­ing.

David Smith, who ad­mit­ted bur­gling stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion in New­cas­tle

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