A PROLIFIC burglar felt under pressure to prove himself to social services after the birth of his son – and with a lack of support during the pandemic he returned to his old ways.
Stefan Watkins broke into a house and took cash from the householder’s wallet, but was caught after his fingerprints were found.
Watkins, age 44, of Theatre Street, Warwick, was jailed for just under two years and five months after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to the burglary.
Prosecutor Amrisha Parathalingam said the burglary took place while a couple were asleep at their home in Price Road, Leamington, in the early hours of the morning on May 11.
Watkins got in through a door which was closed but insecure because it had been damaged.
And when the husband got up in the morning he noticed his wallet had been moved from where he had left it the previous night, and £120 had been taken from it.
Various other items had also been taken, but some had been discarded in the garden, including an iPhone box on which the police discovered Watkins’ fingerprints.
And CCTV recordings from the house and a neighbouring property showed Watkins going down the drive towards the house at around 6am, and he was arrested a few weeks later.
Miss Parathalingam added Watkins had 21 previous convictions for a total of 108 offences, ‘including many house burglaries,’ most recently in 2014 when he was jailed for three years and nine months.
Rebecca Wade, defending, said: “The defendant has an appalling list of antecedents. They are to be attributed to a man with a long-standing drug addiction.
“It is a world which is difficult to escape from. Plainly that does not absolve him from responsibility, but it’s against that background he has to be sentenced.
“An offence which took a matter of minutes will now result in him being incarcerated for years.
“There is a letter penned by the defendant. He presents as reasonably bright and articulate. If he had not turned to drugs, his life might have been very different. He expresses the remorse, regret and shame he feels in the sober light of day.”
Miss Wade said Watkins had been making good progress, but after his son was born in January and Social Services became involved, the pressure he felt to prove himself was too much at a time when there was a lack of support due to the pandemic.
Recorder Charles Falk told him: “Burglary is a blight on people’s lives. It makes people feel insecure in their own homes.”
Observing until the offence Watkins had been making good progress since his last release from prison, Recorder Falk added: “I am prepared to accept this as a blip, albeit a bad one.
“You have a little boy. If you continue with your rehabilitation you will be a worthy father and can guide him not to take the path you had taken.”