Scarborough thief who stole from man's flat while he slept, jailed for over three years

An audacious thief who crept inside a man’s flat while he slept and stole electronic items whilewearing earphones has been jailed for over three years.
Lee Thomas.Lee Thomas.
Lee Thomas.

Scarborough bouncer Lee Anthony Thomas, 49, was caught red-handed by a police officer and left DNA evidence at the scene - but denied he had broken into the man’s property, York Crown Court heard.

Thomas, a strapping figure who self-confessedly sells scrap-and-salvage items “like TVs” on online marketplaces, stole a mobile phone and TV remote control from inside the flat in Westborough.

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He was found with the stolen items by a police officer in a garden at the back of the the man’s ground-floor flat and was filmed on the sergeant’s body-worn camera, but claimed that the remote control was his own fire stick and that he had just been checking on the victim’s flat because he saw the back door open and the lights were on and thought there was a burglary in progress.

Thomas, who was on two recent suspended prison sentences, told the officer he had found the items outside the property and intended to take them into police.

Prosecutor Benjamin Whittingham said the officer saw a Toshiba TV at the property and found a rubber earphone and a Toshiba remote control while searching Thomas and “put two and two together”.

Thomas was arrested on suspicion of burglary shortly after the break-in at about 8pm on September 28 last year.

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The officer went inside the ground-floor flat and found the named victim asleep on his bed.

The victim told the sergeant that his remote control and Samsung mobile phone were missing.

On the living-room floor, police found a green rubber earphone which matched the one they had found on Thomas outside the property.

The one inside the flat had Thomas’s DNA on it, but the brazen burglary challenged police to prove they had any forensic evidence to nail him to the crime.

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Mr Whittingham said the victim, who had lived at the property for 12 years, had come home that day at 4pm and unexpectedly fell asleep at about 7pm, only to be awoken just over an hour later by police.

The only reason he had left the door open was to let his cat in.

He said he had left his mobile on the kitchen table and his remote control on the sofa in the living room before falling asleep.

Thomas, who has 146 convictions for theft and with four previous burglaries on his record dating back to the mid-1990s, was taken into custody but continued to spin a web of lies.

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He was charged with burglary but denied the offence, claiming he had simply picked up the items at the back of the property after stopping in an alleyway behind the flats to spend a penny.

He appeared for trial this week with a flimsy defence case which a judge described as “ludicrous”.

Mr Whittingham said that when confronted by the officer at the scene, Thomas, who was drunk, claimed that one of the ear buds from his iPod-like device must have fallen from his ear and “could have bounced” inside the flat.

He said Thomas had previous convictions for breaking into homes through unlocked doors and told the jury that the musclebound thief had also burgled a garage in 2015.

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Defence barrister Rhianydd Clement had the unenviable task of trying to prove Thomas’s innocence in the face of insurmountable evidence.

She said that although Thomas was found outside the property with the stolen items, the prosecution had presented the evidence about the earphones “as if it is some kind of smoking gun”.

Thomas, who has the toned physique of a bodybuilder, told police “I don’t burgle anymore, I don’t do crime” because of his age and that he suffered from serious health conditions such as sciatica and arthritis and that he also suffered from anxiety and paranoia.

The jury found Thomas guilty almost immediately after the trial had ended.

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Thomas, who was living on Victoria Road at the time, had already admitted stealing a £1,200 bike belonging to a named man in Scarborough.

That theft occurred the day before the burglary.

Judge Simon Hickey said it was clear from the police body-worn footage that Thomas was “under the influence of drugs or drink” when he was stopped by the officer and rubbished his “Good Samaritan” claims about being a concerned resident worried that a burglary was in progress.

He slammed Thomas for his “appalling record” and dismissed his defence claims as “ludicrous”.

Mr Hickey noted that the victim had been left deeply upset and “emotionally harmed”.

Thomas, who was wearing Rosary beads in the dock, was jailed for three years and four months for the burglary, theft of the bike and breaching the suspended sentences.