A CRIMINAL who burgled a stranger’s house carrying a kitchen knife has been jailed for five years.
Carl Whitehead, 22, had only been out of prison for 17 days when he and a fellow burglar sneaked into the Hartlepool house while a man and woman were at home.
The victim was asleep on the sofa while Whitehead and an accomplice stole a PlayStation 3 computer games console, jewellery and a money box.
She said she feels she has to move home because of the traumatic effect the burglary has had on her.
Another resident was upstairs on the home computer when he saw a light on downstairs and shouted down to the victim.
Sue Jacobs, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court: “He saw a person running out of the front room into the hall and out the front door.
“He put his shoes on and tried to give pursuit but he could not see anyone.
“She got up and saw various items had been taken from the house. She also found a black handled kitchen knife left on the sofa.”
It had been taken from Whitehead’s mother’s house and tape that had been wrapped around the handle was found in his home.
Police investigating the July 22 burglary later saw Whitehead in the town centre area carrying a large sports bag with the games console inside.
Officers also heard reports that Whitehead and his half-brother Stuart West, 28, had been trying to sell a PlayStation 3.
When police searched West’s home they found a necklace and bracelet which had been taken in the burglary only several hours earlier. He denied being part of the burglary, but admitted possessing criminal property.
Whitehead, who has a lengthy record for crimes including attempted robbery and house burglary, admitted aggravated burglary.
In a victim statement by the victim read out in court she said: “This crime really frightened me.
“I feel I must move because I don’t feel safe in my own home. The persons who caused this ought to be punished and think long and hard about the mental stress they have caused me.”
Jim Withyman, mitigating, said Whitehead, of Melrose Street, Hartlepool, had started drinking when he was nine and moved on to drugs.
He said: “When he is sober and not under the influence he has great resolve to change his ways.”
Judge Peter Bowers said: “I regard it as a serious matter, the victims were at home.
“There was degree of planning involved and it was at night.
“Carrying a weapon makes it much worse because if challenged there is always the risk someone is going to use it and cause some serious injury.”
West, of Rugby Street, Hartlepool, was jailed for 18 months.