Published: 09:00, 21 May 2014
Two callous drug addicts who looted a house in a flooded Kent village while the owner was evacuated will spend just a few months behind bars.
Stuart Taylor was sentenced to 12 months and Max Harvey to eight months. They will serve half the terms and almost three months on remand will be credited.
Prosecutor Ian Foinette said Kerith Charleton and her children were among villagers who had to leave their homes in Yalding following the heavy rain at Christmas.
Her house in Benover Road was still empty while drying out on March 6 when Taylor, 25, and 29-year-old Harvey broke in, ransacked it and stole jewellery and other property.
Tom Bovington, landlord of the nearby George pub, was told by builders carrying out repairs for him that two men were in an alleyway.
Mr Bovington went over and saw a window had been smashed in the house. He recognised Taylor and Harvey as locals. They had loaded the stolen property into a wheelie bin, he said.
"I don't know how this lady dealt with her home being burgled. After the flooding she must have thought it was the worst year she had lived through..." - Recorder Matthew Nicklin
Mr Bovington told them: "Give it here." Harvey asked if he was going to "grass" him before Mr Bovington returned to the pub and called the police.
Mr Foinette said Taylor also burgled the home of Gary Painter at The Red House in Yalding High Street and stole electrical goods worth about £1,400. His fingerprints were found on the French windows.
Harvey, of Oxford Gardens, Hayle Road, Maidstone, and Taylor, of Wrangledon Road, Yalding, admitted burglary.
Both had a number of previous convictions. Harvey had 40 for 69 offences.
Recorder Matthew Nicklin told them: "What is striking is you are two young men and in 20 years time you will look back and regret what you have done. You have squandered the years.
"You have both got to tackle issues in your lives. If you don't you will be seeing more courts and judges like me and more sentences of imprisonment."
The burglary of the flooded home had a disturbing element because it involved community harm, he said.
"It involves people who have already had a kick in the guts by being flooded and you come along and decide to help yourselves," he added.
"This is an element of targeting vulnerable people when they can do without their homes being burgled.
"You knew it would be easy because it was not going to be occupied.
"It is no comfort to them to know drugs were involved. I don't know how this lady dealt with her home being burgled.
"After the flooding she must have thought it was the worst year she had lived through."
James Ross, for Harvey, said the father-of-one came from a decent home and had hard-working parents.
"Something went wrong with him at a young age," he said. "It is trite to say he fell in with the wrong crowd. He spent time with those older than him who were up to no good.
"He started taking drugs. He managed to clean himself up. He has a 21-month-old son. He had a relapse."
He had a doctor's appointment on the day of the burglary. Afterwards, while under the influence of drugs, he "happened upon" the victim's home.
"He grew up in the area. He no longer lives in the village. He knows he will get a well-deserved prison sentence."
Keith Middleton, for Taylor, said the father-of-two offended because of his dependency on heroin for about seven years. Both burglaries were spontaneous, he submitted.
He was able to work on a building site at one stage in 2012.
"His partner has banned him from the family home while he is dependent on drugs," said Mr Middleton. "He acknowledges it is not good for him to be in the family home.
"There is this vicious circle of not seeing his children, getting depressed and turning to heroin. He wants to do some courses while in prison."
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