Two burglars were caught stealing from a family’s house by the homeowner who demanded they “turn out their pockets”.
Andrew Bywater, 33, and Michael Claydon, 30, burgled a house in Seaham in the early hours of May 6 and stole a bike, a money box, a handbag, and cigarettes. But the duo were caught after the homeowner woke up and saw them on the patio and chased after them.
On Monday, Bywater and Claydon appeared at Durham Crown Court to be sentenced for burglary. Both men pleaded guilty to the single charge at the hearing.
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Liam O’Brien, prosecuting, said the couple burgled the family home on Hawthorne Square at around 12.30am while the father of the family was sleeping on the sofa. He said: “He was woken by a noise from the kitchen and noticed the patio doors were wide open. He looked outside and saw both defendants leaving the yard in possession of his bicycle. He shouted at the defendants, who panicked and dropped the bicycle and a money box, which had been in the kitchen area. “
The homeowner then chased the burglars and soon caught Bywater. Mr O’Brien said: “He encountered Bywater, who responded to a request to turn out his pockets and gave back cigarettes, £ 15 cash and a mobile phone which had been stolen. The man then went out looking for Claydon.”
When Claydon was caught, he was “uncooperative” and a “brief physical altercation” involving “pushing and shoving” occurred – he then ran away but was arrested later by police. Mr O’Brien said that some of the property that was stolen was not recovered and some items were later found hidden in a piece of abandoned furniture that lay nearby. Some items that were never found included a £ 200 iPhone, a handbag containing bank cards, £ 65 cash, and the patio keys, the court heard.
The court was told both men had numerous previous convictions, with Claydon being a third-strike burglar.
Mark Styles, defending Claydon, said he had “difficulties with drug problems” and had “struggled for some time”. He said: “He is at pains to point out it was spontaneous offending and is very apologetic.” He added that the confrontation involving Claydon happened “some distance away” from the family home that was burgled.
Andrew Turton, defending Bywater, said he “volunteered the items back straight away when confronted”. He said: “He willingly surrendered the property to the householder and has no previous offenses of dwelling burglary. At the time, he was taking street-drugs in order to try to deal with mental health problems that had been exasperated by the loss of a close brother in 2021. As a result of this bereavement, his mental health had taken a downward spiral. ”
Mr Turton added that there was “no plan to commit the burglary” and “apologizes for his impulsivity”. He said that Bywater’s mental health continues to be impacted after his brain was “starved of oxygen” following a drug overdose.
Sentencing the pair, Judge James Adkin, the Recorder of Durham, jailed Claydon, of Chelmsford Street, Darlington, for three years. Bywater, of Alwin, Washington, was jailed for 27 months.