A PROMINENT Hartlepool lawyer and his wife found themselves the victims of crime when they disturbed a junkie burgling their home in the middle of the night.
John Ellwood, who has represented hundreds of criminals in the magistrates and crown courts, was awoken at 3am after drug addict Darren Russell, 41, had ransacked his Greatham home.
Mr Ellwood’s shocked wife Angela confronted Russell and at first thought it was her husband John.
After he ran off Mrs Ellwood discovered he had snatched her handbag from their bedroom while she slept.
A large screen TV was also gone from the lounge along with two laptop computers, gold plated cutlery and a set of car keys.
Sue Jacobs, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “As she returned to her room she saw a figure retreating.”
Mr and Mrs Ellwood went downstairs and discovered a pane of glass had been removed from a kitchen window.
Police received a tip off Russell was responsible and when they searched his partner’s house found one of the stolen laptop computers and property from a number of other burglaries.
Russell, of Straker Street, Hartlepool, admitted burglary and asked for three others to be taken into consideration.
He was also sentenced for dangerous driving after he sped off from police in a stolen Ford Mondeo on Monday, December 10.
Russell was on his way to burn it out on behalf of another criminal but he was spotted by police on Seal Sands Road in Billingham and turned on their sirens.
Tamara Pawson, mitigating, said: “Mr Russell is entirely realistic as to the outcome today.
“The reasons for committing these offences are far from admirable, he was a heroin addict desperate for cash.
“He apologises to the victims for his behaviour.”
He was jailed for three years and eight months.
Judge Howard Crowson said: “You broke into their home when they were both asleep.
“You went through many rooms in the house including most of the ground floor and the bedroom where Mrs Ellwood was sleeping and you took her handbag from next to her.
“It will have been of very little comfort to her that you didn’t confront her.”