Face-crook! Chef burgled former friend's home after he posted holiday plans on social media site

Newcastle Crown Court
Newcastle Crown Court

A chef burgled a former friend's home when he knew the place was empty after seeing his travel plans on Facebook.

Darran Hardy had fallen out with the former friend a few weeks before he saw a social media post saying he was going away.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that on his way back from his work Christmas party in November last year the 45-year-old food worker smashed his ex-pal's bathroom window and reached inside to open it.

The dad-of-three then "changed his mind" about breaking in, but neighbours alerted by the noise at the property in Sunderland had already contacted the police.

Hardy who has convictions for burglary more than a decade old, "put his head in his hands" as he confessed during interview what had happened.

Prosecutor Neil Pallister told the court: "He explained he did know the occupant of the house, they had been friends.

"In the defendant's words, 'he, the occupant, really ****ed me off a few weeks ago and was stupid enough to put on Facebook he was going away'."

The court heard after eight pints and a "few shots" at his work party, Hardy passed the former pal's property as he cycled home and decided to target it.

Hardy explained he had climbed the back wall at the property, picked up a drain cover and used it to smash the bathroom window.

After causing £200 in damage to the window, he "changed his mind".

Hardy, of Eastbourne Square, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal.

He appeared at the hearing via video link to HMP Durham where he has spent two months on remand.

District Judge Philip Kramer sentenced him to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, with rehabilitation requirements.

The judge told him; "It does seem to me, in relation to this particular burglary, you did not get very far before you changed our mind, thought better of it and left it alone, which was very sensible on your part."

The court heard Hardy is part-way through an alcohol programme in custody, which he is keen to complete upon release to keep him away from any further trouble.

David Combe, defending, said Hardy is keen to return him to provide for his family and that the offence, which caused no loss and limited damage, was carried out "on impulse".