Thief who likes jail is locked up

Swindon Advertiser: Robert Gillespie Robert Gillespie

A SERIAL thief with 201 previous convictions who burgled a family home while they were away at a wedding has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.

Robert Gillespie was drunk when he broke into the house, where the occupants have lived for 35 years, turning out drawers as he looked for things to steal.

Despite the mess the 42-year-old only got away with £20 to £30 in cash and some old jewellery, which was used for dressing up games by the householder's grandchildren.

But the callous thief also pocketed a handwritten note from the retired woman’s granddaughter which, like the valueless chains, was never recovered.

Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court the three-bed semi was empty on Saturday, October 19 as the occupants had gone to a family wedding.

When they got back at 1am the following morning they found a glass panel in the front door had been smashed by the intruder.

“There was an untidy search, items were tipped out onto the bed. All that had been stolen was £20 to £30 cash from a cash box and some jewellery,” she said.

“It was described as old and broken and of no real value – used by grandchildren for dressing up, a pocket watch and broken gold chain and a handwritten note from her granddaughter.”

Miss Hingston said the householder noticed a spot of blood at the scene which was found to be from the defendant.

Gillespie, of Spring Gardens, pleaded guilty to burglary.

The court heard he had 201 previous convictions and was on a suspended sentence and conditional discharge at the time of the break in.

He is also a three-strike burglar having been convicted of breaking into houses in 2000 and 2002.

Rob Ross, defending, said his client, who has a terrible speech impediment, came to Swindon from Ireland and first got in trouble in 1993.

He said he got taken under the wing of another criminal and joined in with him committing offences and along the way picked up a heroin addiction.

Mr Ross said: “He has been pretty much unstable housing wise, he has no family. He has never really settled.”

He said his criminal record was a litany of mainly minor offending peppered with the occasional serious offence.

Mr Ross said: “He can’t recall details of the burglary. He was drunk, we have heard at most he got away with was a few pounds.

“It’s sad i, he tells the probation officer last week that he likes prison. I suppose what he means is he knows where he is, he gets fed, it is warm, he has somewhere to live.

“He was living in the Salvation Army hostel before. He is pleased he has got a job in prison, working in the recycling plant there.”

Jailing him, Judge Tim Mousley QC said: “The burglary involved you stealing from someone’s home. “You took cash and jewellery and smashed your way in through a door to do it.

“The value was not high but you took items of sentimental value, you stole a personal letter. I can think of no reason at all why you would want to do that.”


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