Burglar spared jail term despite threatening victim with knife

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A burglar who broke into house where someone was watching television has escaped being jailed – despite pulling a knife when the occupier challenged him.

Jacob Oliver pleaded guilty at Coventry Crown Court to the burglary at a house in Turchil Walk, Cawston, Rugby, after a charge of aggravated burglary was dropped.

Oliver (20) of Swift Way, Lutterworth, was sentenced to 20 months detention suspended for two years and ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Richard Griffith-Jones also made him subject to a 7pm to 5am curfew for two months and ordered him to pay £535 prosecution costs.

Prosecutor Lisa Hancock said that on October 16 a 23-year-old man was watching television at his home in Turchil Walk at around 11pm when he heard a noise from the kitchen.

Oliver had got into the back garden, which was surrounded by a six-foot fence, and in through the back door, which the occupier’s mother had left unlocked after taking out some rubbish.

As he got up to investigate, Oliver, wearing a black balaclava and a black puffa jacket, brazenly marched across the living room to the television and began to unplug the X-box.

In disbelief, the man asked him: “What the hell are you doing?”

He then pulled Oliver away from the television and called to his mother, who was upstairs, as they began to struggle.

Oliver managed to push past him and headed back towards the kitchen, and as the man went after him, Oliver turned and raised his hand, in which the victim saw he had a knife.

“It was pointed towards his face about 30cm from his chin for a few seconds before Oliver made good his escape on foot,” said Miss Hancock.

She pointed out that in an impact statement the occupier said his feeling was one of ‘outrage that someone would go into his house in that manner’ and that he had felt scared for himself and his mother.

He later found that Oliver was a former friend of his brother, whose bike had gone missing from the kitchen.

When Oliver was arrested in the area shortly afterwards, he admitted carrying out the burglary, saying he had had too much to drink that night, and having a penknife on him at the time.

Francis Lloyd, defending, said he accepted there were a number of aggravating features to the burglary, but that Oliver did not accept taking the bike.

“On the other hand, he was a man of good character and made full admissions in interview. He has led a blameless life since then and is in full-time employment.

“It was originally charged as aggravated burglary, and on his understanding of the law, he would have pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary – until the law was explained to him.

“I will strongly be urging Your Honour that this need not result in an immediate custodial sentence.”

Judge Griffith-Jones said: “It seems to me, I am sorry, that a custodial sentence is a very real possibility.

“This is a serious burglary. It is distinctly possible a sentencing court would have to pass an immediate sentence.”

The judge said that in view of that, there was ‘no way’ he would sentence Oliver without a pre-sentence report, and adjourned for two days for one to be prepared, warning Oliver: “A custodial sentence is a very real possibility.”

But at the resumed hearing Judge Griffith-Jones said he was prepared to suspend the sentence – but reserved any breaches of the order to himself.