Prolific offender is jailed

Stephen Tobin

Stephen Tobin

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ONE of Hartlepool’s most prolific offenders has been jailed for breaking into a woman’s home in the early hours of the morning.

Stephen Tobin, who has 150 offences on his criminal record, was caught red-handed inside the house by police after he was spotted rummaging around inside by a neighbour.

Tobin, 31, was locked up for 12 months at Teesside Crown Court yesterday after a judge slammed his record as “frankly appalling”.

He prised open a kitchen window of the house in Stockton Road, Hartlepool, at around 3am on September 23.

As previously reported in the Mail, Tobin’s catalogue of crime over the last decade played a major part in Hartlepool being placed at the top of a national league for re-offending.

Tobin claimed he had “turned his life around”, but went on to commit dozens more crimes and regularly ignore court orders to land himself back in the dock.

Sharon Elves, prosecuting, said: “The neighbour looked over the fence and could see the kitchen window was damaged and hanging from its hinges.

“He looked through the window and could see a white hooded male in the kitchen.

“What he could see was him rummaging around and pulling things out of drawers, and called police.”

When police arrived they caught Tobin, of Jackson Street, Hartlepool, coming out of an upstairs bedroom.

He claimed he was allowed inside to get something to eat.

But the homeowner who arrived soon afterwards confirmed she had never seen him before and he did not have permission to be there.

The owner discovered an Apple laptop computer had been put inside a guitar bag, and numerous items had been put in a bag in the living room to steal.

A chair had also been propped up against the front door.

Tobin, who was living rough at the time, told police he had been looking for somewhere warm to sleep.

But he said he could not remember much about the burglary after taking two sleeping pills and drinking a can of lager.

He pleaded guilty to burglary at Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court last month.

Alex Menary, mitigating, said there was an alternative to locking Tobin up.

“He is sick of the revolving door where he is released having served a short prison sentence, falls into offending and is back before the courts,” said Mr Menary.

But Recorder Gurdial Singh said: “I’m of the opinion this offence is so serious only a custodial sentence is warranted.

“The offence is aggravated by your antecedents which are frankly appalling.

“The fact remains were you to be released, I’m satisfied that you would resort to crime.”