Homeless burglar sentenced after New Year raids on Sunderland pharmacies

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David Binns. Picture c/o Northumbria Police.David Binns. Picture c/o Northumbria Police.
David Binns. Picture c/o Northumbria Police.

A homeless and hungry burglar who scaled roofs to raid three Sunderland pharmacies in one night has been imprisoned – but not for his latest crimes.

David Binns, 33, targeted branches of Medichem in Suffolk Street, Villette Road and Robinson Terrace, all Hendon, on New Year’s Day night, a court heard.

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He made off with goods and money totalling around £700 and caused hundreds of pounds of damage by breaking in through ceilings.

Binns also swiped a bank card dropped by a shopper in Gateshead on Monday, January 29, prosecutor Glenda Beck said.

The offender used it to fraudulently buy bottles of booze and other items totalling £50 at Asda’s Felling branch and two other stores.

But he came unstuck when police traced him via CCTV from retailers and forensic evidence he had left at the scene of a break-in.

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At South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, he pleaded guilty to three counts each of burglary and fraud by false representation, and one of theft.

He also asked for a burglary at a pharmacy in Red House, Sunderland, on Saturday, December 30, be taken into account.

Magistrates jailed Binns for a total of 12 weeks, a sentence they suspended for 18 months – meaning he would have walked free for those offences.

But he failed to keep his liberty after Probation Service chiefs intervened and ordered his recall to prison.

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He will serve 28 days of a jail term,  imposed in January last year for burglary and driving offences, he had been freed from on licence in December.

In one break-in, Binns removed roof tiles to gain access, taking stock and money totalling around £256 and causing £322 of damage, Mrs Beck said.

In another, he made off with a till drawer containing £85 and perfumes but left behind forensic evidence, and in the third, took around £357 of cash and goods.

Gerry Armstrong, defending, said Binns had been left with nowhere to stay and with just £85 when released from prison on licence.

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And he suggested the Probation Service had only “a pen and not a magic wand” to help Binns on his next release from prison.

Mr Armstrong added: “He may get sustenance in HMP Durham, but he’ll have to be behind bars to get it.

“He was released from HMP Northumberland with just £85 and told to get himself home.

“He tried to get accommodation from various agencies, but he was left in Sunderland city centre to sleep and to try to find something to eat.

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“He told the police he was better off inside. He told them he had not a thing to look forward to.”

Magistrates jailed Binns for six weeks for each burglary, to run concurrently, and to six weeks for each fraud and the theft.

They will run concurrently to each other but consecutively to the burglaries.

There was no order for compensation or court costs, but Binns must pay a £154 victim surcharge.  

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