A BURGLAR who tried to steal items from his friend to use as his son’s Christmas presents, was found hiding in a wardrobe after being caught red handed.
Mark McManus entered his friend’s Sunderland home knowing it would be empty as he knew his friend was at his girlfriend’s house.
He said he had a young son and no money to buy him any Christmas presents.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that the 19-year-old was injured breaking into the property and the owner was alerted by a neighbour, who had heard the sound of windows smashing.
McManus was caught in the act by the home owner, who was armed with an axe for protection, on November 23, of last year.
He noticed McManus hiding in a wardrobe trying to hold two cupboard doors shut with his fingertips.
The man then attacked McManus, who was in possession of a knuckle duster and scalpel, and ended up in hospital where he received 12 staples to his head.
Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court: “At around 10.30pm, the defendant was at his girlfriend’s house and told her that he was going to meet a lad for a fight. He then entered the premises of his friend’s house nearby in Sunderland.
“The occupant received a call saying there was smashing sounds coming from his house. He returned with an axe to find McManus hiding in a wardrobe with his fingers clearly visible, trying to hold the doors shut.
“He attacked him and told him to get downstairs as there was police on their way.
“The police then caught him walking across a playing field.
“He told police he attempted to break into the house as he knew it was empty.
“He said he had a young son and no money to buy him any Christmas presents.
“He said he had the knuckle duster as protection and the scalpel he had picked up when he was in the house. Alec Burns, defending, said: “The defendant knew that this house was empty.
“He had stayed at the house before and knew that the occupant would not be going back there that night.
“He initially was going to stay there, but changed his mind and started looking for things to get for his son’s Christmas presents.
“He was then caught red handed. He then was attacked by the occupant and after a trip to hospital received 12 staples to his head.
“He carried a knuckle duster with him as protection as he was mugged outside an ATM machine two weeks before this incident.
McManus, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of a bladed article.
Recorder Wheeler sentenced him to 16 months’ imprisonment, half of which he will serve in custody.
He said: “You’re 19 years old and you broke into a family’s house who were friends of yours. You had a knuckle duster and a blade that were in your pocket.
“Had you used those weapons you could have been in a lot more trouble.
“I have to take a pragmatic view, you have not armed yourself to go round and cause violence.”