A well-known 63-year-old Scarborough busker is not the “harmless eccentric” he likes to portray, but a “prolific offender”, it was said before a crown court last week.
With 54 convictions for 105 offences, committed since 1963, William “Billy” Farrell was found guilty in January by a jury of breaking into the basement of a Scarborough house and assault with intent to resist his apprehension by the householder.
He appeared back before York Crown Court for sentencing on Wednesday and was jailed for a total of three years.
Farrell, of Trafalgar Square, confronted householder Anthony Gibbon after he heard noises coming from the basement of his Queen Street home on April 14, last year.
Mr Gibbon investigated to find that Farrell was inside the cellar, piling up bags of hand tools and other items ready for removal, and challenged him.
Attempts by Mr Gibbon to the intruder at the scene failed, only resulting in a bout of pushing and scuffling, but Farrell was recognised by neighbours and witnesses alerted by the commotion as “Billy the Busker”.
Farrell, who told the jury that he had not entered the premises to steal, but to find a friend who used the basement to sleep and drink in from time to time - something adamantly denied by Mr Gibbon and his wife.
He claimed that he had not assaulted Mr Gibbon who, he said, had pushed him and pinned him against a wall.
The jury was told that one of the latest convictions on Farrell’s long record was for climbing up scaffolding and opening the window to a sleeping woman’s home, claiming when she confronted him that he was just looking for a friend.
Passing sentence, the Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, told Farrell that he was “not persuaded that he was a harmless eccentric, but remained a prolific offender”.