Burglar with more than 200 offences jailed after terrified pensioner caught him red-handed

Darren Russell
Darren Russell

A serial burglar with more than 200 offences on his record who terrified a pensioner in her own home has been jailed.

The night raid on the lone 60-year-old’s flat in a sheltered accommodation block was Darren Russell’s 18th dwelling burglary conviction.

He had 60 convictions for 206 offences since 1999, and he was a third-strike burglar facing a minimum three-year jail sentence.

The woman came face-to-face with him in her kitchen after she fell asleep on the sofa on October 28 and she was wakened by a rasping noise.

She went into the kitchen and she found that her net curtain had fallen down.

Prosecutor Jenny Haigh old Teesside Crown Court: “Almost immediately he was stood six inches in front of her. He climbed out of the window feet first. He stopped, looked back at the window and then walked off.”

The woman pulled the emergency cord in the flat and she rang 999, and the police arrived rapidly. She was able to give them a description of what he was wearing.

Miss Haigh added: “She said that she was shocked and finding it hard to concentrate.

“In a Victim Impact statement today she said ‘I have been demonstrably frightened and left very vulnerable. ‘I felt physically sick when I saw him and I felt terrified’.

“When the police arrived she was shaking and very shocked. He said that he had been walking past when he decided to go into the flat.

“It appears obvious that this was targeted because this was sheltered accommodation and clearly elderly people would be residing there.”

Russell had left distinctive footprints in the flat, and police found his matching trainers hidden behind a washing machine at his bail hostel just 100 yards away.

Andrew Teate, defending, said Russell, 42, acted on impulse and he could not explain his actions.

He said Russell had come out of prison with a resettlement package prepared to help him back into society, but he felt it had failed.

Mr Teate added: “He says that with his record he is never going to be able to get a job. He does say ‘I’m 42 years of age now and I need to turn my life around’. He will accept any training he is given in prison.”

Judge Howard Crowson told Russell: “You have seen the effect on this lady.

“I’m afraid it seems to me inevitable that you did know it was the home of an elderly person. It must have been a terrifying experience for her and I’m sure that she continues to feel the terror and fear.”

Russell, of Grange Road, Hartlepool, was jailed for three years and ordered to pay £1,000 court charges after he pleaded guilty to burglary.