Jailed jewellery thief loses ‘old trainers’ appeal

editorial image
Have your say

A BURGLAR who claimed he was wrongly linked to a string of house raids by a pair of aging trainers has failed in an Appeal Court bid to clear his name.

Paul Martin James, 40, was caged for 30 months at Teesside Crown Court last October after he was convicted of four burglary counts.

Three of them involved items such as jewellery stolen from local houses.

James, of Sidings Place, Houghton, was implicated in the raids due to telltale footprints left by a pair of Nike trainers, Lord Justice Aikens told London’s Appeal Court.

It was undisputed that James was wearing the same trainers used in the burglaries when he was arrested in connection with the crimes in May last year, the court heard.

But he insisted there was a perfectly innocent explanation – he having bought the trainers from a scrap dealer selling goods door-to-door after the final burglary was committed on April 16 last year.

James claimed he was a “hoarder of material” and was always buying things, said Lord Justice Aikens.

He insisted he had “half a ton of stuff in his garage including other shoes”.

And the only issue for the crown court jury to decide was “whether they were satisfied the shoes were being worn by James at the time of the burglaries”.

Challenging the “safety” of his convictions, his lawyers claimed the trial judge unfairly allowed the jury to draw “adverse inferences” from his failure to respond fully during a police interview.

Lord Justice Aikens, sitting with Mr Justice MacDuff and Mr Justice Cooke, noted that James had said just a few words during this interview – “I got the shoes given”.

But the judge said James’s response was given in “the most laconic of terms”, concluding that the judge’s direction to the jury was fair.

Dismissing the appeal, he concluded: “There was powerful prosecution evidence against James.

“He was seen wearing the trainers on 30 April and he was arrested wearing the same shoes.

“If ever there was a case which cried out for an explanation about how he came by the shoes, this was it.

“We are quite satisfied that the convictions are safe.”