Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Career Burglar Gets Two-and-a-half Years In Jail


Burglary was Anthony Gawthrop’s career and he was a hard worker, with a CV boasting loot worth more than £130,000 from 114 raids.

The 25-year-old, who said the only thing he was good at was breaking into other people’s homes, was targeting almost one property a week for much of 2010.

But the seven-year spree across the Cambridge area came to an end after Gawthrop tried to sell a pilfered car to an undercover police officer and left his mobile phone at a victim’s address.

Yesterday, Gawthrop was jailed for two-and-a-half years at the city’s Crown court.

Judge Gareth Hawkes¬worth branded him a "professional and prolific house burglar" but halved the expected term of five years after agreeing there were "very exceptional circumstances" in the case.

The court heard the thief genuinely wanted to put his past behind him and had beaten his drug addiction.

Gawthrop, of Arran Close, Cherry Hinton, pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary, and asked for a further 112 to be taken into considera¬tion.

The earliest of these dated to 2003 and 38 happened last year.

He admitted one charge of attempted burglary, and owned up to a further 10 – plus cannabis possession.

Gawthrop was already infamous for vaulting out of the Crown court dock in 2005 and since then had received two jail terms, each of three-and-a-half years, for numerous burglaries and cocaine supply.

John Farmer, prosecuting, said the first of the latest burglary charges dated to April 28 last year, when Gawthrop was one of three intruders who broke into an empty house in Longstanton and made off with swag valued at £3,200, plus two cars, valued at £21,500.

While the raid was in progress one of Gawthrop’s accomplices’ called a police officer who was working undercover and offered to sell him one of the cars, a Nissan valued at £10,000 – and the deal was done for £400 in Milton just minutes later.

Gawthrop was not arrested at this stage to allow the undercover operation to continue and he struck again on June 9, when he was caught red-handed trying to break into a house in Bar Hill with two co-conspirators after a neighbour dialled 999.

Then, on August 28, the home of a Polish family on Minerva Way in Cambridge was broken into, and a laptop computer and mobile phone were stolen.

But Gawthrop left his phone behind, with pictures of himself on.

Mr Farmer said the total value of the goods stolen, including in the offences taken into consideration, was around £130,000, but because the value of items is often not recorded, the real total is likely to be much higher.

Mr Farmer said: "The upshot is pretty well an average in 2010 of one a week."

Georgina Gibbs, mitigating, said Gawthrop had had started committing crime at the age of 10 but had beaten drugs, hoped to move away from Cambridge with his long-term partner, and had a job lined up.

She said: "He describes himself as only being good at one thing, namely burglary, but he was good at it and he started a career in that line of work."

Afterwards, Det Chief Insp Chris Mead, who led the police operation, said Gawthrop’s assistance would help burglary prevention advice to be improved.