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Reading Crown Court: Newbury houseboat burglar bailed yet again

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A SERIAL burglar whose recent escapades included targetting Newbury houseboats may yet avoid custody.

Last July, a judge promised the “nightmare” housebreaker that he would spare him jail – then learned he was the prime suspect in the spate of narrowboat break-ins.

However, after referring to the impact on victims of his latest offences, a prosecutor reminded the court the sentencing guidelines recommended a "starting point" of three years imprisonment for such offending.

At last year's hearing Naomi Perry, prosecuting, told Reading Crown Court that 23-year-old Rhys Boness-Braybrooke had already racked up 55 convictions, including multiple burglaries of homes and businesses and offences against women.

Reading Crown Court. (55914704)
Reading Crown Court. (55914704)

She outlined some of his convictions in chronological order, starting with a burglary at the former Wyevale Garden Centre in Thatcham – an offence committed while Boness-Braybrooke was on bail for other matters.

There then followed a break-in at Tigers Day Nursery in Thatcham, where windows were smashed and staff lockers were jemmied in order to loot them.

Next was a company break-in at Lower Henwick Farm, Thatcham, involving hundreds of pounds worth of damage.

A warehouse burglary nearby and interference with a Range Rover car soon followed.

Boness-Braybrooke, who had been living at Gordon Court, Newbury, admitted all the offences.

Judge Edward Burgess QC described Boness-Braybrooke as “a nightmare to deal with”, but said he would not be sending him back to prison after his defence counsel told the court he had stayed out of trouble.

On Wednesday, May 11, Boness-Braybrooke was back before the same judge, for sentencing for more dwelling burglaries.

He admitted entering a canal boat and stealing £300, $300 US dollars and 1,700 Mexican pesetas.

He is further admitted entering a house boat and stealing electronic goods and money.

In addition, Mr Boness-Braybrooke pleaded guilty to entering a houseboat and stealing a range of electrical goods.

Finally, he admitted handling stolen goods and breaching a prior court order.

All these offences were committed in Newbury between December 19, 2019, and March this year.

Boness-Braybrooke was excused a previous sentencing hearing because he had reportedly broken a toe.

At the latest hearing Matthew Hodgetts, defending, said his client could neither read nor write.

The judge has previously heard Boness-Braybrooke also suffers from oppositional defiance disorder, whose symptoms reportedly include arguing with authority figures, refusing to follow rules and blaming others for mistakes.

Mr Hodgetts asked for more time to explore the effect his client's illiteracy had upon his offending.

Judge Burgess acquiesced, but warned whether an immediate jail sentence would ultimately be imposed was a decision "balanced on a knife edge".

He noted Boness-Braybrooke's "fondness for for finding his way into other people's properties", but suggested he had complied with previous court orders.

This was corrected by a probation officer who said there had, in fact, been a breach.

This was contested by Boness-Braybrooke and will be dealt with at the next hearing.

Meanwhile Nigel Walsh, prosecuting, urged the judge to consider a particularly harrowing victim impact statement provided by one houseboat owner, Trevor Martin, and said: "The [sentencing guidelines] starting point is three years [custody]."

Judge Burgess agreed to a further adjournment "without thereby promising [the defendant] anything regarding the way I will ultimately deal with him ... I need to protect the public from his repeat offending."

Boness-Braybrooke was meanwhile released on bail.

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