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Judge Recorder Nicklin apologises to burglar Stuart Taylor who looted Yalding home while owners were evacuated

A judge has apologised to a burglar he jailed for just 12 months for looting a house in a flooded village while the owner was evacuated - for making the sentence too long.

Recorder Matthew Nicklin knocked a month off Stuart Taylor’s term because he said he failed to give him full credit for his guilty plea.

Taylor, 25, and Max Harvey, 29, cashed in on the misery of Kerith Charleton after she and her children were forced to leave their home in Yalding during the heavy rain last Christmas.

Flooding at Yalding
Flooding at Yalding

Her house at Woolletts Cottages in Benover Road was still drying out on March 6 when the pair broke in, ransacked it and stole jewellery and other property.

Tom Bovington, landlord of the nearby George pub, recognised them as “locals” and saw they had loaded their spoils into a wheely bin.

Taylor also burgled the home of Gary Painter at The Red House in Yalding High Street and stole electrical goods worth about £1,400.

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 Nicklin on Tuesday sentenced Harvey to eight months and Taylor to nine months with three months consecutive for the second burglary.

Flood-hit Yalding was among the worst affected
Flood-hit Yalding was among the worst affected

But Taylor was brought back to Maidstone Crown Court to be told about the reduction.

The judge said he had “discounted the sentence incorrectly” by not giving a third off the 12 months he would have imposed for the break-in at the flooded house.

The sentence, he said, should have been eight months and not nine months.

Recorder Nicklin said he had received a message that the Crown objected to him reducing the sentence.

But prosecutor Bridget Todd told him: “I know not why they object. I cannot see any reason to object.”

Yalding was one of the areas of Kent hit hard by floods
Yalding was one of the areas of Kent hit hard by floods

The judge continued: “He is entitled to have his sentence changed. It has now been put right.”

He told Taylor: “I apologise for making that error.”

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