Burglar Billy Smith sheds clothes to flee chasing police dog after burglary of James and Pauline Frost in Rainham
Billy Smith, who stripped off to flee from a police dog
A burglar who tried to outwit a chasing police dog by discarding his clothes en route was possibly as red-faced as the shorts he was left wearing when eventually caught.
Billy Smith, 19, removed both his hoody and jogging bottoms as he first tried to evade homeowner James Frost, and then the pursuing canine.
Smith had already grappled with Mr Frost's wife, Pauline, when he dropped down from an upstairs window and landed beside her outside the couple's home in Maidstone Road, Rainham.
Despite her shock and fear, Maidstone Crown Court heard Mrs Frost grabbed Smith by his face, as well as his 'loot' bag containing £1,800 of jewellery.
She then tussled with him while screaming for her husband to help. Mr Frost had been parking their car in their garage when Mrs Frost was confronted by Smith as she carried their shopping indoors.
Judge Philip Statman commended her "extraordinary bravery" as he sentenced Smith to two-and-a-half years in a young offenders' institution.
The court heard it was his third conviction for burglary and one of 16 for theft-like offences.
At the time of the break-in in August last year Smith, of Ajax Court, Beacon Road, Chatham, was also subject to a suspended sentence of 175 days custody for four offences of possessing drugs.
Judge Statman remarked that Smith, who pleaded guilty to burglary, had spent almost a quarter of his young life committing crime.
He also accepted that Smith had not had "an easy start in life", with his mother addicted to heroin and his brother dying shortly before the break-in at the Frosts' home.
But the judge added that he also had to understand the impact his offending had on others.
"You have, in the past, been given every opportunity to be assisted by the probation service.
Judge Philip Statman at Maidstone Crown Court
"But, in my judgment, change must come from within and even at your young age you must understand the impact that offences of domestic burglary have upon your victims."
Judge Statman ordered that the custody term of the suspended sentence be served concurrently to the two-and-a-half year sentence.
Prosecutor Iestyn Morgan said the Frosts had left their home at 10.30am on August 30 last year and returned at 11.40am.
Mrs Frost was putting their shopping in the doorway when she saw Smith drop down from the window.
"She was shocked and then instinctively grabbed hold of his face, pulling on it and pulling on the bag he was carrying," said Mr Morgan.
"They then became involved in a tussle together and Mrs Frost later told police: 'He was really shoving me.'
"She began to scream for her husband who was still in the garage. Smith ran off but Mr Frost followed."
The chase lasted for about 100 yards before Mr Frost had to give up as Smith clambered up a wall. Mrs Frost had managed to break the bag he had been holding and jewellery was falling out as he fled.
A neighbour saw what was happening and called the police, who arrived within minutes to continue the chase.
Smith stole a wedding ring similar to those pictured here
"The dog took up the scent and found a number of items stolen from the burglary", continued the prosecutor, "along with the hooded top which had been discarded by Smith.
"A witness had also seen him taking his jogging bottoms off and hiding them under a car.
"They were also recovered by police and when Smith was found nearby he was wearing just red shorts and a vest."
Tucked inside his shorts was a 22-carat ring stolen from the Frosts' home.
The court heard that much of the jewellery was recovered, although Mr Frost's gold wedding ring and a diamond-encrusted eternity ring are still missing.
The prosecutor added that Mrs Frost "remains nervous" whenever she returns home.
"I would particularly wish for you to convey to your wife that she behaved in an extraordinarily brave way indeed and I wish to commend her" - Judge Philip Statman, to homeowner James Frost
Judge Statman personally addressed Mr Frost, who was sitting in the public gallery, at the end of the hearing.
Having already remarked on the couple's bravery, he added: "I am extremely grateful for you attending court today.
"When I dealt with the impact this has had on you and your wife I meant every word that I said and I would particularly wish for you to convey to your wife that she behaved in an extraordinarily brave way indeed and I wish to commend her."
The court heard that despite his "tough life" spent in and out of care as a result of his mother's drug addiction and violent partners, Smith had every intention of complying with the suspended sentence imposed in July last year.
However, the death of his 26-year-old brother, Ricky, less than three weeks later led to Smith turning back to alcohol and drugs, said defence counsel, Alexia Zimbler.
She told the court that Smith was remorseful for his behaviour.
"He knows this was not the right way to deal with it (his grief) but sadly he doesn't know any other way of dealing with emotional instability."
She continued: "He fully accepts what he did and fully accepts this lady was very brave.
"She grabbed him and wanted to stop what was happening and he pushed her away in order to make his escape."
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