Published: 11:40, 12 September 2017
A heartless burglar broke into two charity shops and stole property intended to help the disabled and people with terminal illnesses, a court heard.
Lee Heathfield was joined on one of the night raids on Scope in Roman Square, Sittingbourne, by fellow career criminal and drug addict Shane Baker.
Heathfield also burgled The Friends of the Wisdom Hospice shop in the High Street. As well as stealing property, both shops were ransacked and damage was caused.
Heathfield, of East Street, Sittingbourne, admitted four burglaries, handling stolen goods and fraud. Baker, 28, of no fixed address admitted one burglary.
Jailing Heathfield, 33, for three years and four months and Baker, 28, for two years and three months, a judge branded the offences “disgraceful”.
Heathfield, who has 27 previous court appearances for almost 50 offences, went on the crime spree over three months between May and July this year.
The first was at The Oaks Community Infant School in Gore Court Road on May 27. The site manager saw that £1,730 of damage had been caused. A figure was seen on CCTV footage stealing a key.
Heathfield’s DNA was found at the school. When arrested, he said he broke in because he had nowhere to stay, Maidstone Crown Court was told.
He and Baker targeted Scope in the early hours of July 8. An employee was alerted by the alarm going off and he could see on cameras the two men in the shop.
The pair broke in by a side window and stole a laptop computer, a hoover, teapot, a gold-plated clock, DVDs and keys worth a total of over £1,000.
Heathfield and Baker, who has 36 previous court appearances for almost 100 offences, were identified from CCTV footage.
"Both men are career criminals and prolific offenders with a clear lack of morals shown by their willingness to target a charity shop" - PC Chris Jones
Heathfield damaged a window to enter the Wisdom shop. He stole £563 from a safe and property including a laptop worth £613.
The shop owner said in a victim statement that money from items taken went towards funding nurses working for the hospice helping people at the end of their lives.
Heathfield also broke into Money Generator in the High Street, where he was a regular customer, and sold a stolen welding tool.
He broke in by damaging the roof in the early hours of August 8 and stole a till and Xbox consoles. Damage totalled over £1,000.
Prosecutor Daniel Stevenson said the owner of the welding tool searched the internet and found it was for sale at Money Generator. The fraud was Heathfield making a false representation to the shop.
Christopher Surtees-Jones, for Heathfield, applied for a report for a drug treatment assessment, but his client asked to be sentenced after the judge indicated he was likely to be given a prison sentence.
Mr Surtees-Jones said Heathfield had a long-standing amphetamine addiction and he had relapsed. He wrote to the court saying his life had been corroded by drugs.
The father-of-three was a skilled ceramic tiler and plasterer but when his addiction kicked in he committed offences.
“He feels disgusted and ashamed,” said Mr Surtees-Jones. “He understands such behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Baker, father of a three-year-old, was also said to be disgusted about breaking into the charity shop. His mother had a professional career and he was the black sheep of the family.
Judge David Griffith-Jones QC told the pair the only real mitigation was their guilty pleas entered by video link with Elmley Prison. He told Heathfield it was “a disgraceful spree of burglaries”.
After the sentencing, investigating officer PC Chris Jones said: "Both men are career criminals and prolific offenders with a clear lack of morals shown by their willingness to target a charity shop.
"CCTV footage and enquiries by local officers secured these sentences and now we have two more burglars off the streets and behind bars.
"I hope this prison term will be the wakeup call both men need."
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