A BURGLAR who targetted Thatcham homes has been locked up to protect the public.
The 51-year-old had pleaded for “one last chance” – despite having 234 previous convictions.
But after hearing how drug-addicted John Mark Oakes had failed to comply with previous court orders and was spending £100 a week on heroin and crack cocaine, magistrates took another course.
Andy Callender, prosecuting, said Mr Oakes, of Westland, Thatcham, was caught on one occasion after trying to chisel his way into a property in Bath Road.
He added: “It was at the rear of a five-bedroom, detached home.
“But unfortunately for the defendant, the owner had recently installed high-definition CCTV.
“At 1.15pm he used his phone to spot Mr Oakes trying to force entry to the double glazing.
“The defendant was then seen going to the rear patio doors and trying to force them.”
Mr Callender added: “CCTV images were circulated – by far the clearest CCTV images of an offender committing a crime that I’ve ever seen – and he was apprehended.”
The owner of the property said in a victim impact statement read out to the court that Mr Oakes had caused £4,000-worth of damage in his break-in attempt.
He added that his wife was now fearful that someone would break in while she slept.
Mr Oakes admitted committing the attempted burglary on February 16.
He asked for two further offences to be taken into consideration.
The first was a burglary at a home in Henwick Lane, Thatcham, on January 24, in which Mr Oakes smashed a window to gain entry before ransacking the place and stealing jewellery and other items.
The second was a theft of food from the Co-op in Thatcham Broadway on February 28.
Sidra Quadri, defending, said her client owed thousands of pounds to drug dealers, who had threatened him and his dog if he failed to pay up.
She said that, despite being prescribed the heroin substitute methadone, Mr Oakes still spent £60 a week on heroin and £40 a week on crack cocaine.
Ms Quadri told the court that Mr Oakes cared for his elderly mother and suffered from anxiety and depression, which would be made worse if he was sent to prison.
She concluded by stating that her client was remorseful and pleading with magistrates to give Mr Oakes “one last chance” by suspending any sentence of imprisonment.
A probation officer told the court that Mr Oakes had failed to properly comply with previous community orders.
He added that the Swanswell substance abuse agency reported that Mr Oakes was unsuitable for any more drug rehabilitation orders because they had not worked in the past.
After retiring to confer, magistrates told Mr Oakes that only an immediate custodial sentence was justified because of his previous record and the impact his crimes had had on his victims.
Mr Oakes was jailed for six months.
In addition, he was ordered to pay only a nominal £250 in compensation towards the £4,000 worth of damage he had caused, because of his existing debts and his lack of means.