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Gloucestershire Business News

Prolific burglar sentenced for spree of 20 break-ins and thefts in Gloucestershire

A 28-year-old prolific burglar has been jailed for six years after his latest spree of 20 break-ins and thefts in Cheltenham and Cirencester.

Elliot Harris, formerly of Hester's Way, Cheltenham, but now of no fixed address was sentenced at Gloucester Crown Court on Wednesday (October 11) for ten house burglaries, one attempted dwelling burglary and nine thefts.

He admitted seven charges on the indictment and asked for 13 more offences to be taken into consideration.

Caitlin Evans, prosecuting, said: "The first burglary was on December 13, 2022, when a messy search was made of a property in Cheltenham and items of jewellery were stolen. They had sentimental value to the owners. A quantity of cash was taken from a wallet.

"On July 13, 2023, Harris was involved with the theft of laundry pods and washing capsules valued at £54.99 from a Tesco store in Cheltenham.

"On July 16, he stole an electric pedal cycle, valued at £1,000, belonging to Nigel Mahon - a man in his 80s - after it had been propped up outside a shop for only a couple of minutes.

"On July 28, Harris attempted a burglary of a dwelling in Queen Street, Cirencester, while the homeowner was working at the back of the property.

"She heard the sound of a large bang and went to investigate and saw Harris armed with a hammer smashing a kitchen window. She shouted at him, and he ran off. The damage cost £2,500 to repair.

"The same day he broke into another property in City Bank Road, Cirencester, while the owner was on holiday. The owner was notified of the break in by a neighbour who noticed that a garden ornament had been used to smash a glass door.

"Also on the same day, July 28, Harris burgled two homes owned by different members of the same family in Cirencester. He entered by smashing windows to enter both properties.

"Harris was spotted jumping into a car that had been waiting nearby. This car was later stopped by police and Harris got out of the vehicle and ran off.

"But when he was caught, he was found in procession of some of the items that had been stolen that day and other items were recovered from the vehicle."

Steven Young defending said: "Harris accepts he is a third strike burglar and that he will receive a significant sentence today.

"Harris has shown genuine remorse and now accepts that people who are burgled suffer as a consequence. There is however a significant gap in his offending.

"It appears that when Harris has a trauma in his life he turns to drugs as a coping mechanism. He is not a hard and fast drug user or even a regular drug user, but he does use drugs when he feels the need to.

"This spree of burglaries began in December but were not detected until he was serving a prison sentence for similar offending in March 2023. He was arrested on the day he was released on June 21, 2023, and charged with the burglary. He was bailed with a condition not to return to Cheltenham and was given accommodation in Gloucester.

"But this meant he was sharing a property with other drug users, and he decided to leave and make himself homeless. This was an environment he was trying to avoid.

"But despite his attempt to stay away from drugs, he was unable to do so because his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder flared up and he began having flashbacks to another period in his life.

"He will not get help with this while he is in custody and will have to get help for this himself when he is released."

The court was told that of the 20 offences before the court seven were actual charges and the others were to be taken into consideration when he is sentenced.

Judge Rupert Lowe told Harris: "These homeowners you burgled have had their lives seriously interrupted with not only the theft, but the cost of rectifying the damage and increase in insurance premiums.

"You don't care about anybody affected by your offending. You shattered these homeowners' confidence in their own security and left them fearing you might come back. You caused these owners untold misery

"Whilst you were being taken into custody you showed the police that you had three rings in your mouth and swallowed them. However, you state that you handed them over and I am assuming you did, but there is no record of this.

"I am pleased you are making good progress in custody in turning your life around and I hope this continues into the future.

"It is appreciated that you have volunteered the 13 additional matters which have been taken into consideration in the total sentence of six years imprisonment."

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