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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham man with 119 offences jailed

A 53 year old Cheltenham man with a criminal record of 119 offences stretching back more than forty years was jailed for 876 days on 28 February, for his latest crime - a burglary.

Winston Allen, of Lower High Street, Cheltenham, pleaded guilty to breaking into a garden flat in Queens Road in the town on 20 December, 2019.

The victim of Allen's crime was so shaken by the raid on her home that she has bought a lifesized dummy that she poses around her flat, even putting into a bed she has made up to make it look like someone is always in, Gloucester crown court was told.

Due to the extensive nature of Allen's previous convictions for dwelling burglaries, at least 19 the court heard, he was subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of three years.

Although Allen entered his guilty plea at a stage where he could usually expect a 25 percent discount against that jail term, legislation meant that the maximum discount he could receive was 20 percent, Judge Jason Taylor QC explained, as he imposed the 876 day sentence.

Prosecutor, Janine Wood, said the resident, who lived alone with her dog, had left the flat at 6.50pm and locked the doors.

She returned from the local shops at 7.45pm to find that her property had been broken into from the rear doors.

A white gold ring had been taken from the dressing table in her bedroom.

On the door that was used to force entry scenes of crime officers found a 'blood spot' that was analysed and found to be from Allen, Mrs Wood said.

He was arrested on 28th January and gave a no comment interview, she said.

The court heard that Allen had 42 previous convictions for 119 offences. The court heard that due to offences that had been taken into consideration, it was possible he may have admitted more house raids that just the 19 shown on his record.

Mrs Wood turned to a statement the woman had made about the impact of the crime upon her.

Judge Taylor noted: "It has had a very tangible effect on her."

The woman said: "I am terrified. I live alone with my dog.

"Previously I had been very independent.

"I believe that there are people watching me.

"I do not go out, as much as before. I do not want my dog to be hurt, so I do not leave him alone.

"I have missed university classes.

"I put a dummy in the bed. I have made up in the back room to make it look like someone is sleeping.

"I sit it up in other rooms.

"I am terrified of my own house. I want to move.

"This has made me depressed."

Mrs Wood said: "That is more than usual mental anguish and trauma to the victim."

Judge Taylor observed: "A lone female that has gone to the length of getting a dummy. Moving it around. Putting in a bed so it looks like someone is there. That is real trauma."

Today, Allen's case was that he was in the company of another person and was not the one who actually entered the property.

However Judge Taylor told him that was not a mitigating factor but aggravated the crime because 'there were two of them'.

Mrs Wood agreed saying: "We were not aware of that, as he went no comment. But that is a group and aggravates it."

Defence lawyer, Matthew Harbinson, said: "It is hard to understand how the impact of someone entering your home would not be of significance."

However he added: "It was a daytime unoccupied burglary with a low value item stolen.

"An unidentified third party went with him, smashed window, entered.

"He did not himself take the items," Mr Harbinson said, but accepted that the presence of the other offender did aggravate the case.

Imposing the jail term, Judge Taylor told Allen: "You broke into an unoccupied dwelling and stole a white gold band ring.

"It is clear she has been massively affected, and I hope it has helped you to hear what she has said.

"She has gone to extreme, but understandable lengths. She is considering moving home."

The judge described Allen's criminal career as 'prolific and persistent'.

"I hope you will not come before the court again. I do not have confidence.

"You are getting older and you need to change your ways," the judge concluded.

"I know," said Allen, before he was taken to the cells.

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