A BURGLAR who was caught because he dropped two carrier bags full of loot as he fled from a Cotswolds house has avoided a jail sentence.
Because Damon Greatrix has taken steps to overcome his heroin addiction since his arrest, Judge Michael Harington decided to give him a chance.
The judge sentenced Greatrix, 40, of Woodleigh, in Pershore, to two years imprisonment suspended for two years .
He also placed him under supervision with a 12 months drug rehab requirement and told him he would have to report to Worcester Crown Court regularly for reviews of his progress.
The judge told him he was "very fortunate" not to be going to jail, especially as he has made 35 previous court appearances and served sentences of up to eight years for robbery.
Greatrix had admitted breaking into a house in Fosse Way Avenue, Moreton, on the morning of 15th Oct last year and stealing property including two laptops and jewellery.
Gloucester Crown Court was told Greatrix had taken his bike with him on the train from Evesham to Moreton commit the burglary and it appeared to be a planned expedition.
Simon Goodman, prosecuting, said the householder went out for an hour and a half and when he returned was surprised to see a bike in the garden.
He went to the back of the house and saw that the conservatory had been smashed open with a spade.
As he was investigating he got a glimpse of someone going over the garden fence.
Inside the house he found that three of the four bedrooms had been searched and drawers had been emptied onto the beds.
Police were called and they found two carrier bags, one in the garden by the fence and the other in a courtyard behind the house.
The stolen property from the house was in the bags but later the owner's daughter found that £350 had also been taken and that had not been recovered, said Mr Goodman.
He said police checked CCTV and saw Greatrix riding a bike like the one the householder had seen in his garden. Later DNA from one of fhe bags was identified as Greatrix's.
Paul Trotman, defending, said when Greatrix first appeared before the court for the offence last month (June) another judge heard that he had recently been to the Pathways organisation to get help with his heroin adiction.
He had since continued his fight against his addiction, was taking methadone and had given two negative drug tests, said Mr Trotman.
He said Greatrix's partner, the mother of his 18 months old child, is also getting help with her own drug addiction.
Mr Trotman said the previous judge had decided to find out more about Greatrix's decision to tackle his addiction had effectively deferred sentence till today.
The solicitor submitted it would be unfair if Judge Harington were to pass an immediate jail term today in view of the chance the previous judge had given
Judge Harington told Greatrix "This was a serious offence of burglary. You travelled by train and it appears you had your bicycle as well.
"The offence is further aggravated by the fact the occupier returned while you were there and you took jewellery of sentimental value belonging to the occupier's daughter.
"But given the reports I have read on you I have decided to follow the recommendation in the pre-sentence report.
"You are very fortunate."