Burglar jailed for three years

A BURGLAR who raided two homes in Stowmarket to fund his heroin addiction has been jailed for three years.

Paul Merchant, 34, pleaded guilty to two offences of burglary at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday.

Because of his previous burglary convictions, Judge Peter Fenn told Merchant, of Willbye Avenue, Diss, that under the ‘three strikes’ rule he was obliged to jail him for three years.

Prosecuting, Patricia Doggett told the court that Merchant had burgled one house in Crown Street and one in Bond Street on the early evening of March 30.

Neighbours of the Crown Street property had become concerned about Merchant acting suspiciously after he called at their house asking for directions to a street that they had never heard of.

The neighbours called police and then made a second call minutes later when they heard the sound of breaking glass, said Miss Doggett.

Police arrived to find that Merchant had stolen a mobile phone, a purse and a handbag and had fled.

He was arrested shortly after in the next street.

It then emerged that Merchant had also stolen a mobile phone and charger from the kitchen of a house in Bond Street in what was described as a ‘walk in’ burglary.

The occupant’s 16-year-old daughter had been in an adjoining room at the time and had heard the back door open but had assumed that it had been her sister coming in, Miss Doggett told the court.

The family realised that they had been targeted later on after hearing about the Crown Street burglary and finding the phone and charger missing.

The court heard that Merchant had previous convictions involving 18 court appearances for 46 separate offences.

Jude Durr, in mitigation, said Merchant had committed the two burglaries in an attempt to raise cash to pay for drugs.

Merchant had been made homeless after discovering the body of the 31-year-old woman who was his landlady at a property in Diss and was also upset at having recently found the body of a close friend.

Merchant had been suffering from depression.

Mr Durr said: “This was a chaotic period in his life.”

Judge Fenn sentenced Merchant to a total of three years in prison.

“It is clear that you were at a low ebb in your life at the time,” said Judge Fenn.