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Burglar Johnathan Towers, of Lower Halstow, sentenced after Gillingham burglary

By Medway Messenger reporter

A burglar caught red-handed ransacking his neighbour's home tried to cover his tracks by calling cops himself to report the break-in, a court heard.

Knowing he had left his finger and palm prints on a TV, Johnathan Towers bizarrely claimed he had gone into the mid-terrace house in Gillingham to hunt down a man who had snatched his bag in the street just minutes earlier.

A court heard the 36-year-old told police he had followed the bag-snatcher around the house, touching the TV as he did so.

Saxton Street, Gillingham. Pic Google Maps

Saxton Street, Gillingham. Pic: Google Maps

But prosecutor Daniel Stevenson told the court Towers was simply trying to 'set up a defence' for being caught in the act.

The householder returned to his home in Saxton Street on July 5 this year to find the front door locked from the inside, and French doors at the rear smashed open. The TV was in the middle of the living room floor.

"The defendant called the police to report a burglary but records showed that was at the time the victim returned home and discovered he had been burgled," said Mr Stevenson.

"The inference is that the victim disturbed the defendant while he was taking the TV and, knowing he would have left his finger and palm prints on that TV, he took the opportunity to set up a defence."

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

The case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court

Towers, who lived 17 doors up from the victim, admitted burglary. He stole an Xbox and games, a model boat and £550 cash.

Maidstone Crown Court heard on Tuesday that he has 34 previous convictions for 60 offences, mostly shoplifting but also one for burglary of commercial premises in 2001.

Mary Jacobson, defending, said the former trainee plumber's offending resulted from his drug abuse.

But despite a judge telling him the public had 'deserved a break from his presence' in the past, Towers was spared jail on this occasion.

Judge Julian Smith

Judge Julian Smith

Judge Julian Smith said he was prepared to impose a 'more robust' punishment and sentenced Towers to eight months imprisonment suspended for two years, with 30 days rehabilitation activity requirement, six months drug rehabilitation and 150 hours of unpaid work.

He told Towers: "You knew full well the police would catch you. You lied in your interview and you set up a potential defence to say why you were there by ringing the police. This was incompetent behaviour."

Towers, who now lives in School Lane, Lower Halstow, was also banned from going to Saxton Street for three years.

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