Thief raided Sunderland hotel just three days after jail release

The Travelodge in High Street, Sunderland
The Travelodge in High Street, Sunderland

A raider who burgled a Sunderland hotel three days after he was released from jail has walked free from court.

Gareth Cartwright sneaked behind the reception desk at the Travelodge, in High Street, and took purses from two handbags, which both contained money, belonging to workers.

Gareth Cartwright

Gareth Cartwright

The 35-year-old, who has 113 previous convictions, confessed he had been targeting cash to buy drugs when he raided the hotel on December 12.

Newcastle Crown Court heard one of the purses contained contained over £170 that had been given to the receptionist as a gift to buy a new telephone for her birthday.

The owner of the second purse, which contained around £30, told police: "It may only be £30 but you don't come to work to lose money."

Both victims had been busy with reception duties when Cartwright crept in and did not realise immediately that their property had been taken.

Cartwright was identified through CCTV and still had the purses, which were empty, when he was arrested at a hostel in the city.

The court heard Cartwright had been out on the streets for just three days following his release from a prison sentence for burglary.

Miss Recorder Felicity Davies told Cartwright: "You have a very bad record for dishonesty.

"You had only just been released for three days and then you go into the Travelodge and steal from the handbags of the two victims."

The judge said Cartwright could be given a chance of keeping his freedom due to a positive assessment from the probation service, who consider him to be motivated to change and keep off drugs.

Cartwright, now of Victoria Avenue, Benton, North Tyneside, pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with drug rehabilitation.

The judge told him: "I am going to give you a chance.

"If you fail, you know perfectly well you will go to prison."

Nicholas Lane, defending, said Cartwright is now clean from drugs and motivated to rebuild relationships and keep away from trouble.

Mr Lane said the burglary was "opportunist" and added: "It was money stolen for drugs and he is now clean.

"He knows a positive test or minor misdemeanor will place him back before the court."