Burglar caught red handed after raid on home

Gary Hepworth
Gary Hepworth

A burglar was caught red-handed trying to steal copper pipe and wiring from a house that was under refurbishment.

Gary Hepworth, and at least two other men who have not been caught, caused £1,000 of damage to the house in Easington Colliery, a court heard.

Hepworth, who has more than 100 offences on his record, committed the offence just days after being given a community order by magistrates for a previous crime.

The alarm was raised by neighbours who heard noises in the early hours, Durham Crown Court was told.

“When a police officer arrived at the front of the house he could see two people inside,” said Jonathan Harley, prosecuting.

“The officer made his way to the back of the property.

“Others had fled, but Hepworth was in the back yard.

“He stood still when told to do so, and was cooperative with the police officer.

“Hepworth was found to be carrying a screwdriver, a Stanley blade, and a dust mask taken from the property.

“Inside, wiring and piping had been stacked in the corner of a room as if ready for removal.”

Hepworth, 38, of Bradley Street, Horden, admitted burglary on July 7, last year.

The court heard he has a record of 138 offences, and had been given a community order by magistrates for carrying a knife three days before the burglary.

Neil Bennett, defending, said in mitigation: “He does have a bad record, but his offending rate has slowed in recent years.

“Mr Hepworth has been to custody many times, but it is a long time since he served a significant sentence.

“Since this offence, his 15-year-old daughter has moved back in with him.

“This is a responsibility Mr Hepworth feels very keenly.

“He now has a good incentive to keep himself right.”

Judge Simon Hickey jailed Hepworth for 12 months.

The judge told him: “Your offending has slowed down, but this offence was committed within days of the magistrates putting some trust in you giving you a community order.

“Other people were not caught, but you were caught, and caught red handed.

“It is clear you had the screwdriver for the purpose of breaking into property.

“The damage caused was not insignificant.

“Such behaviour crosses the custody threshold, particularly for a man with your record.”