Serial burglar slammed after breaking into friend’s home

Newcastle Crown Court.
Newcastle Crown Court.

A serial burglar has been jailed after breaking into a friend’s home and showing ‘total disrespect’ to the family of a dead man who owned the property.

Steven Spencer, 47, forced his way into a property in Wilber Court, Sunderland, which is now lived in by Mark Hogg and his sister Lisa, and stole £400 from a money jar as well as causing £150 of damage.

The house had belonged to the siblings’ father and Spencer was close enough to Mr Hogg to have attended his funeral three years ago.

Serial burglar Spencer, who claims to have no recollection of the break-in as he believes his drink had been spiked that evening, appeared via video-link at Newcastle Crown Court and was jailed for 14-months.

CCTV footage showed Spencer loitering outside the house on October 31 before he forced entry through the back using a brush, said Michael Bunch, prosecuting.

Mr Bunch said Lisa Hogg had been particularly upset by Spencer’s actions given his relationship with the family.

He added: “She feels that his willingness to burgle what was her father’s house is a display of total disrespect for her father and his family.”

Spencer, who has 26 previous convictions for 46 offences, 32 of which are thefts, had been out drinking with friends before the burglary, said Michelle Stoneley, defending.

She said the thief believes his drink had been spiked that evening and had not deliberately targeted the house.

There was a ‘huge gap’ between 2009 and 2014 during which Spencer did not commit any offences, she added, and this was his first time back in custody in eight years, having served a 15-month sentence in 2005.

She said: “He is sorry for his actions and appalled that he has committed this burglary.

“He is more appalled that it was a friend’s premises that he has burgled.”

His honour Justice Robert Spragg said he gave Spencer full credit for the guilty plea he entered at Magistrates Court on November 8.

Sentencing Spencer, of Front Road, Sunderland, he said: “Lisa Hogg was particularly upset because you had been at the funeral of her father.

“You know the family and what you did showed no respect for her father’s memory.”