A prolific burglar who targeted the home of a young family as they slept upstairs has been jailed for more than six years.
Sean Marshall was arrested after he left a cigarette butt in the house, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Some former criminal associates reminded Mr Marshall of debts he owed, and he felt compelled to burgle again to settle those debts.Andrew Teate, defending
“The burglary took place at a semi-detached house in Hartlepool,” said David Crook, prosecuting.
“The occupants were asleep upstairs when entry to the ground floor was gained via a rear door.
“They came downstairs in the morning to find drawers in the lounge had been searched.
“All the occupants of the house are non-smokers, and they noticed the distinctive smell of cigarette smoke.
“A butt had been discarded and left to burn out.
“It was forensically examined and found to have Marshall’s DNA on it.”
The court heard a small amount of cash and jewellery of an unknown value was stolen.
Marshall, 36, of Dobson Place, Hartlepool, admitted burglary on November 20, and handling a necklace taken in a different burglary.
Mr Crook added: “Marshall’s position is aggravated by his six previous convictions for burglary since the ‘three strikes’ rule was introduced in 1999.
“His last custodial sentence was five years for burglary in 2011.”
Andrew Teate, defending, told the court Marshall knew another ‘significant sentence’ was inevitable.
“His best mitigation is his plea of guilty,” said Mr Teate.
“He was released from his last sentence to a Christian rehabilitation unit.
“That went well for a time, but he then moved back to his old area of Hartlepool.
“Some former criminal associates reminded Mr Marshall of debts he owed, and he felt compelled to burgle again to settle those debts.”
The Recorder, Mr Nicholas Lumley QC, jailed Marshall for six years and four months.
The recorder told him: “The sentencing guidelines for this offence suggest a starting point of one year.
“But as you appreciate, your record puts you into an entirely different position.
“There must be an element of deterrence to the sentence, both to deter you, and to deter others from repeatedly burgling houses.”