Teen burglar let off prison time

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A teenage burglar whose hoard of jewellery and an iPad was discovered when police stopped his father’s car has escaped a prison sentence.

John Flynn, 19, of Ranston Street, London, had broken into two Hemel Hempstead homes – one in Mill Close and the other in Wootton Drive – last year, and swiped more than £1,000 worth of jewellery as well as the valuable tablet device.

Flynn, who was only 18 at the time of the burglaries, was caught with a screwdriver and balaclava as he drove his dad’s Volkswagen Passatt, which police pulled over due to problems with his back suspension.

He was found to be acting nervously, prompting police to search the car and locate his stolen haul.

But at the start of his trial in April, Flynn pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods but denied the burglaries.

Once the trial had begun, however, he admitted being the burglar and also pleaded guilty to a bail offence.

He had also failed to attend a court hearing in September last year, and had been remanded in custody since his arrest in January.

Due to the length of time he had already spent on remand, his defence asked Judge Andrew Bright QC to pass a suspended sentence, arguing he was only ‘lightly convicted’ and his six months in custody had been a ‘salutory lesson’ for him.

The offender explained his partner had suffered a miscarriage in that time.

Judge Bright agreed to pass a non-custodial sentence, and told him: “You have been in custody for a significant amount of time.

“Had you not spent time on remand you would have received an immediate prison sentence.”

Flynn had only one previous conviction for harassment when he was aged 15.

He was handed a four-month sentence suspended for two years, as well as a community order including a two-year supervision requirement and 50 hours of unpaid work.