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Gloucestershire Business News

Stroud burglar offered food after attempted theft

A shocked Stroud man who found a burglar in his garage locked him in and called the police - but then offered him food when he realised he was homeless and starving, a court heard.

Paul Gardiner went into the detached garage at his property in Home Orchard, Ebley, Stroud, Glos, to get the laundry and found intruder Robert Watkins searching through his freezer for food, Gloucester crown court was told on Friday.

He quickly locked Watkins in the garage and called the police.

Alun Williams, defending, said: "Watkins hadn't eaten for days and he took the opportunity to raid the freezer when it presented itself. He didn't go equipped for burglary.

"Mr Gardiner generously offered Watkins some food after he had been arrested by police."

Watkins (pictured right), 49, formerly of Westward rd, Ebley, but now of no fixed abode, had been due to appear before the court on January 24, to face the charge of burglary of Mr Gardiner's garage on May 27, 2019, but failed to turn up. A warrant for his arrest was issued and when he appeared last Friday he pleaded guilty and also admitted failing to surrender to bail.

Mr Williams added: "He is homeless and forgot that he was due to appear in court on January 24.

"Watkins would like to apologise to Mr Gardiner for his actions."

The court heard that after the incident Mr Gardiner found a rucksack in the garage that didn't belong to him and inside it he discovered between £20 and £30 worth of food taken from his freezer.

The court was told that Watkins had 37 convictions for 101 offences and was in breach of a suspended sentence for another non-dwelling burglary.

Judge Michael Cullum said: "Watkins has a long list of convictions. "

He told Watkins "This was described as a relatively benign crime but looking at it from your victim's point of view when he found a stranger rummaging through his property at his home, even if it was a detached garage, he wouldn't have known your intentions, or who he was having to deal with at that stage.

"I accept you were hungry and looking for food. However you were subject to a suspended prison sentence at the time.

The judge sentenced Watkins to a total of 14 months and seven days in prison.

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