A BURGLAR who stole vital computer equipment belonging to an autistic schoolboy has been jailed.
David Birch, 28, raided a family home in Sunderland in February, and made off with an iPad, laptop and Blackberry mobile phone.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the property belonged to an autistic boy, and the raid has had a devastating effect on the family.
The property was eventually returned to the youngster, but the fact it was taken in the first place may have a long-lasting effect on him, the court heard.
The boy’s mother told police in a statement: “This has been a horrible and traumatic event for me.
“To come downstairs to find someone has entered your home while in bed, with my family also in bed, is a very daunting and quite sickening thought.
“I am so grateful that the property has been returned, not so much for financial implications, but more so for my son’s sake. He has an autistic condition.
“It would have left him devastated and truly knocked back, knowing the items valuable to his life had been stolen.
“He would have struggled to focus, and have stress and nerves to the point he would not have been able to attend school or anything.
“The fact the items were taken for a short period may have had a similar effect. For anyone to cause this distress and upset to an innocent lad is disgusting.
“I really hope the magistrates or judge take this into account when dealing with the person responsible.”
Birch, of Westbourne Road, Millfield, was arrested hiding in a garden shortly after the raid. He showed police where he had stashed the stolen property, in a bid to convince them to let him go.
He told officers during interview he had not known the equipment belonged to an autistic boy, and that he was sorry.
The court heard Birch had gone into the house via an unlocked door after “lurking” around outside.
Recorder Philip Engelman jailed Birch for two years and five months after he pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary.
The judge said: “This boy would have been very upset to learn his possessions had been interfered with.”
Barry Robson, defending, said Birch was homeless at the time and had been just “wandering the streets.”