Community order for convicted burglar with learning difficulties

A Barnsley man with learning difficulties convicted of burglary was handed a 10-month community order today.

Twenty-six-year-old Richard Drury, of Hemingfield, acted as a “lookout” for a youth who stole £5,000 worth of belongings from a home on Greenside Lane in Barnsley, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Amongst the stolen items were the victim’s wedding ring and her grandmother’s engagement ring, prosecutor Charlotte Rimmer told the court.

Patrick Short, who was 17 at the time of the burglary but has since turned 18, was found guilty of burglary and sentenced to a 12-month referral order by a youth court.

Short burgled the home as part of a “vendetta” against the victims’ son, the court heard, and £2,000 worth of the stolen belongings were found in his home after being searched by police.

The victim left her home to take her grandfather shopping at around 12pm on 29 March last year, Ms Rimmer said, and spotted Drury standing at the end of her drive at around 2:15pm.

She spotted him again half-an-hour later, before he turned away and walked off whilst typing into his phone, Ms Rimmer said.

The victim became suspicious and looked across the area for Drury, finding him not long after with a second man dressed in a black tracksuit.

Ms Rimmer added that the victim asked Drury multiple times on different occasions that day about what he and the second man were doing, but Drury insisted that he did not know him.

The victim then took a photograph of Drury and sent it to South Yorkshire Police, returning home to find that her dog flap was smashed, two upstairs bedrooms had been searched and entry had been gained through an en-suite.

She later found that damage was caused to the downstairs windows where the burglar tried to gain entry, Ms Rimmer said.

The court also heard that Drury has seven previous convictions, three similar to his burglary conviction.

Defence barrister Amy Earnshaw told the court: “He is young with significant disadvantages with learning difficulties.”

Drury, who is out of work but used to work as a farm labourer, acted as a lookout for Short and didn’t know what he was doing, Ms Earnshaw said.

She added that his mother “has a raft of health problems”, including osteoarthritis and terminal cancer, and that she relies on Drury for physical assistance and to cook meals and do the shopping.

Drury’s father also relies on him for assistance due to hernia problems, the court heard.

“He is a hard worker; he has worked on farm land, he has worked with livestock and he can give something back to the community,” Ms Earnshaw told the court.

Judge Graham Reeds QC spared Drury of any jail time and handed him a 10-month community order, with a curfew from 8pm to 6am every day.

“You still stayed out of trouble and that is much to your credit,” Judge Reeds told Drury upon sentencing.

Drury was also sentenced to 270 hours of unpaid work, to be completed within 12 months.

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