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11th Dec, 2019

Burglar back behind bars after breaking into Henley-in-Arden home

Editorial Correspondent 1st Nov, 2019 Updated: 1st Nov, 2019

A BURGLAR who was on licence from a prison sentence when he and an accomplice broke into a house in Henley-in-Arden to steal the owner’s car is back behind bars.

James Stephens was foiled in his attempt to take the car because it was fitted with an immobiliser, a judge at Warwick Crown Court has heard.

The 28-year-old, of Fallindale Road, Sheldon, Birmingham, was jailed for three years and three months after pleading guilty to charges of burglary and attempted burglary.

Prosecutor Ian Speed said at the time Stephens was on licence from a three-year prison sentence imposed at Birmingham Crown Court in 2017 for earlier burglaries.

On July 24 Stephens and another man who was wearing a mask were captured by a CCTV camera as they went to the rear of a house in Edge Lane in Henley, at around lunchtime.

Having arrived in a VW Golf, they smashed the glass in a rear door to get into the house and stole the keys to a VW Sirocco which they then tried to steal.

But they were unable to start the car because, following a burglary last year, the owners had taken additional precautions including having the car fitted with an immobiliser.

Then on September 9, Stephens and an accomplice turned up at a house in Letitia Avenue in Meriden, where they knocked on the door to check whether anyone was at home.

One of them then went round to the back of the house where he was seen by a neighbour who challenged him – and they made off in a car which was found to have false number plates.

But Stephens, who had a number of previous convictions, was recognised from CCTV recordings at that address and at the property in Henley, added Mr Speed.

Simon Burch, defending, said following his arrest Stephens was recalled to prison to continue serving his previous sentence – so the time he had been in custody would not count towards any new sentence.

“He has asked me to convey his sincere remorse and apologies. He had hoped to turn his life around when he came out, but he was approached by a drug dealer to whom he owed a debt – and was taken to the property to pay off his debt by stealing.”

Mr Burch said that until then Stephens, who had been ‘on the streets’ on and off since he was 14, had been working with the probation service to obtain a CSCS card to enable him to get a job in the construction industry.

Jailing Stephens, Judge Anthony Potter told him: “You have realised what a mess you have made of things, but I have no sympathy for the fact that you were taking drugs.

“If you choose to engage in illegal activity, you can’t complain if that activity leads you to become involved in other criminal acts.”

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