A NOISY burglar caught trying to steal copper pipes from a vacant house has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Paul Routledge targeted a property a Hazelwood Avenue, Southwick, which he knew was empty and due for renovation by a housing group.
But his clattering and banging alerted the attention of a neighbour who rang 999.
Officers arrived at the house, including one with a police dog and Routledge gave himself up before he could actually steal anything.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that copper pipes had been stacked up inside of the property,
Routledge already had two previous convictions for house break-ins. That meant the 26-year-old was automatically liable to a three-year jail term under the courts’ “three strikes” rule.
Routledge’s barrister Jamie Adams argued that the mandatory sentence would be “unjust” because the offence was not a typical occupied dwelling house burglary.
“This is a young man who has tried to keep himself out of harms way for some time. He has not been in prison for three years, this has been a shock to him.”
Mr Adams said Routledge has the offer of work, a supportive family and could be adequately punished in the community, without having to be sent to jail.
The court heard Routledge had qualifications that would allow him to work on the rail system and has a job waiting for him with local company.
But Judge Esmond Faulks imposed the mandatory prison sentence, less discount for Routledge’s early guilty plea.
The judge said: “I accept this was an unoccupied dwelling house but it was your third burglary.
“I cannot see that it would be unjust for me to impose the mandatory minimum so that is the sentence.”
Routledge, of Pineway Square, Marley Pots, had admitted burglary at an earlier hearing.