Burglar given 'one last chance' after assaulting woman whose house he targeted and then threatening to fight her neighbours

A man who assaulted a woman whose house he had burgled before threatening to fight her neighbours has avoided prison.

Friday, 23rd August 2019, 3:49 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd August 2019, 4:12 pm
The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.
The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

Robert Leigh, 44, was found holding a box of tiles in the garage of a house on Westerdale, in the Mount Pleasant area of Washington at 9pm on March 20 this year.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the homeowner was in the living room when she heard a loud bang. She went outside the front door and noticed the garage shutter was up and so went inside.

Joe Culley, prosecuting, told the court that when she saw Leigh in her garage holding the box of tiles she was startled.

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The woman asked him: "What are you doing in my garage?" and he replied, "Sorry, miss."

Leigh then pushed her with both hands as she attempted to call the police before neighbours and a friend of the woman, who'd been in the house with her.

Leigh shouted, "I want to fight you, get on the grass, get on the grass," at one of the men who feared he was going to be hit.

During interview Leigh admitted to having drank £5 worth of vodka and put himself as five out of ten drunk.

In her victim impact statement, read to the court by the prosecution, the homeowner said: "I am now more wary and this has caused me to feel unsafe in my own home."

Helen Towers, defending, said: "He accepts that he hasn't performed as he should have done."

Miss Towers also outlined how, with help from the court and the probation service, they could "stop this revolving door in relation to his addiction" and asked the judge to consider a suspended sentence.

Leigh pleaded guilty to the burglary as well as admitting one count of assault by beating, two public order offences and failure to surrender at the lower courts.

Judge Penny Moreland sentenced Leigh, of Sidings Place, Houghton, to 22 months imprisonment, suspended for two years and ordered drug rehabilitation requirements.

Judge Moreland made clear this was an exception due to the probation service offering him help.

She said: "You are very fortunate that they have offered that to you.

"You have had the chance, this is your last chance."