Burglar writes letter of apology to Sunderland family after house raid left 10-year-old girl 'terrified and in tears'

Joe Corner
Joe Corner

A burglar has offered an apology and reassurance to a family who no longer feel safe in their home after he raided it.

Joe Corner had been in the living room of the four-bedroomed detached house in Sunderland when the mother and 10-year-old daughter walked in and found him.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the little girl was "terrified and in tears" at the sight of the stranger and had to sleep at a relatives' home on the night of the break-in in August.

After being jailed for the raid, the 23-year-old burglar, who appeared at the hearing via video link to HMP Durham, said he has penned a letter for his victims in a bid to say "sorry".

Corner, who has previous convictions, told the court: "They don't need to not feel safe.

"I wonder if I would be allowed to send it to let them know they are not going to have any problems with me, I will not return to the address or anything again.

"It is to say sorry.

"It was nothing personal, you know what I mean?"

Judge Penny Moreland advised Corner to give the document to officials, who will assess if it is suitable to be passed on to the victims.

Prosecutor David Crook told the court the family had been out of the house that day and the mother and daugher went into the living room when they got back.

Mr Crook said: "They were confronted by the defendant, who stood up from a crouched position.

"The mother could see there was smashed glass about the floor and the living room window had been smashed, that is how entry had been gained.

"The defendant made some feigned attempt to justify why he was there. He appeared intoxicated.

"She sent her 10-year-old daughter to get her father."

The court heard Corner had taken a tin containing up to £500 in cash and other belongings from the house and had even searched upstairs.

He had the container hidden down his trousers when he was stopped by police, who searched the area after the break-in was reported, and confessed he had burgled the house as he owed money to "real bad 'uns"

In a victim statement, the little girl's dad said she was "terrified and in tears" after the raid and added: "We no longer feel safe in our own home".

Corner, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to burglary as well as an earlier burglary, committed in June, where he took property, including fishing gear, from a shed.

Judge Moreland jailed him for a total of 22 months.

The judge told him: "The 10-year-old was extremely upset by you being in their home."

Angus Taylor, defending, said Corner has had drugs problems, has been homeless and has an injury to his shoulder from being stabbed.

Mr Taylor said Corner has sought help for his problems while on remand.