A TEENAGER who burgled his own grandparents’ home was spared jail after the victim wrote a heartfelt letter to a court pleading for mercy.
Leon Pottage, 18, smashed a window to gain entry to the home in Rosevale Terrace in Falsgrave, along with a companion, and stuffed his grandparents’ belongings into a bag on November 25.
But ahead of the sentencing hearing at York Crown Court, sitting at Harrogate, Pottage’s grandmother penned a “powerful plea for clemency” which Recorder Andrew Campbell QC described as “moving” and “extremely helpful and well thought out”.
The letter, along with the defendant’s age and guilty plea, persuaded Recorder Campbell QC to pass only a community sentence.
Describing the offence, prosecutor Alan Mitcheson said: “His grandparents were away on holiday and their kitchen window was broken. A not insignificant quantity of goods were taken away in a bag, including a sat-nav.
“He was seen by police with the bag. When challenged the defendant gave a completely false account. He said he had been to the premises to check on it.”
Pottage later claimed that his companion, who he refused to name and has never been traced, had broken the window and handed the bag to him.
But when the case came to court Pottage pleaded guilty to the burglary.
He also admitted unrelated charges of handling stolen goods after he was seen on CCTV eating a stolen pasty or sausage roll, and theft, after he stole a laptop worth £500 from a property in Columbus Ravine on August 26.
Simon Reevell, mitigating, said: “My client’s parents are in court, and there is a great deal of good will towards resolving the difficulties that have resulted in this young man being before the court this morning.”
Sentencing Pottage, Recorder Campbell QC said: “It lacked any feature of sophistication, but burglaries are serious offences.
“When people break into other people’s homes it can scar the lives of the victims for many, many years.
“I have read a moving letter from your grandmother and she gives a very detailed insight into a number of difficulties you have suffered in the past.
“Bearing all of these matters in mind with your plea of guilty and age I am going to make a community order.”
Pottage was ordered to undergo supervision, with a focus on drug and alcohol-related issues, in addition to 100 hours of unpaid work. He was warned that he may be sent into custody if he fails to comply with the order.