Cigarette butt DNA fits homeless housebreaker ‘seeking night’s shelter’
A rough sleeper is back behind bars after breaking into the home of an elderly Ipswich couple while freed from jail on licence.
Michael Smith was recalled to prison after being charged with burgling the property in Norwich Road on September 10.
Appearing before Ipswich magistrates via video link from Norwich prison on Thursday, the 34-year-old admitted trespassing with intent to steal from the unoccupied address, owned by a couple now in residential care.
Although nothing was reported stolen from the couple’s home, Smith confessed to committing the offence while released on licence from a five-and-a-half-year sentence, handed down in April 2014, for conspiracy to burgle a non-domestic property.
Prosecutor Lesla Small said the couple’s son was in the process of clearing the property, which he left locked and secure following a regular visit on the morning of the offence. He returned that evening to discover an attempt had been made to smash a glass panel of the back door, she added.
“He then went outside and saw the downstairs bathroom window had been smashed and that a smaller sash window was open.
“He went back into the property to find several drawers and a jewellery box had been opened.
“In the bathtub, he noticed a cigarette butt – DNA from which matched Mr Smith’s.”
In a police interview on October 31, Smith told police he had previously slept in a garden shed at the property but did not smash the bathroom window.
He claimed to have only looked inside and must have dropped the cigarette end from his pocket.
Duty solicitor Jeremy Kendall, mitigating, said Smith had spent 18 months homeless and had been using drugs since his release from prison in September 2016.
“He accepts he went into the property but says he didn’t force his way in,” added Mr Kendall.
“The fact nothing was taken would indicate his primary intention was to sleep there.
“He has no previous convictions for dwelling burglary, so it seems his reason for going to the property was to seek shelter.
“He has been making good use of his time in custody by getting clean of drugs – and he hopes to be offered some sort of accommodation on release.”
Magistrates sentenced Smith to eight-weeks’ custody, concurrent to the spell he will serve for being recalled to prison. He must also pay £100 for the damaged window.