Burglar with 18 break-ins on record burgled more Leeds homes to fund heroin and crack addiction

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A "wanted" burglar who carried out a spate of raids on homes in Baildon, Menston and Farsley while he was on prison licence has been jailed for a total of five years.

Drug addict Stephen Irwin, who already had 18 house burglaries on his record, broke into homes in the dead of night last autumn and stole property and cars including one man's Motability vehicle from his home in Farsley.

Serial burglar Stephen Irwin. Photo: West Yorkshire Police

Serial burglar Stephen Irwin. Photo: West Yorkshire Police

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Bradford Crown Court heard on Friday that the homeless 38-year-old had been committing offences to fund his long-standing heroin and crack cocaine addiction and the stolen property, including two cars, were sold on for modest amounts of money.

Irwin's lawyer John Bottomley said following his release from prison in October his client had ended up sleeping rough in the Manningham area of Bradford after losing his accommodation and an unofficial apprenticeship.

He said Irwin had been committing offences since he was a young boy and had started taking drugs in the mid-1990s.

Prosecutor Heather Gilmore said Irwin's stole a Skoda Octavia from a home in Baildon last November and CCTV footage from the kitchen captured him "going through the cupboards" with a torch in his mouth.

Irwin, who was the subject of a police appeal for information about his whereabouts, left his blood at the scene of another nighttime attempted break-in at a retired couple's him in Menston.

In addition to admitting three house burglaries, two charges of car theft and one of attempted burglary Irwin's also asked for two more house burglaries and a further attempt to be taken into consideration.

Miss Gilmore said the offending involved a signficant degree of planning and the targeting of high-value vehicles.

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Recorder Gavin Doig told Irwin that the offences had had a significant financial and emotional impact on his victims.

"These are high value offences," the judge told him.

"There is clear evidence of planning and the clear use of tools to effect entry."

He said Irwin had caused serious harm by his offending and it could not be overlooked.

The judge set Irwin's sentence at seven years and six months, but said he had to reduce that to five years because of his early guilty pleas to the charges last month.