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Wrotham and Otford burglar Mark Ishmael jailed

By Kent Messenger reporter

A serial burglar who went back to his old criminal tricks within days of being released from prison did not bank on modern-day technology landing him behind bars again.

Mark Ishmael was caught red-handed trying to sell his haul of expensive jewellery, watches and electrical goods after police followed the tracking device on an iPhone he had stolen.

The 52-year-old, who has committed more than 40 house burglaries in his 'professional career', was traced to a pizza takeaway in London within two hours of his crime spree in Kent on October 28.

Mark Ismael. Picture: Kent Police
Mark Ismael. Picture: Kent Police

Police knew to find him there after they called a mobile phone Ismael had stolen from a house in Otford. He answered it, and accidentally left the line open. Officers then heard a person in the background asking for extra pepperoni on their pizza.

Despite his shoe matching a print found at one of the break-ins in the village of Otford, near Sevenoaks, Ishmael tried to talk his way out of it by giving officers a false name of John Taylor.

A court heard he was interviewed, charged and released on bail under that identity as he had not been linked to his prolific criminal past.

But justice finally caught up with him when officers found a Mercedes car key among the stolen goods.

It led to him being arrested again for a third burglary committed just an hour before the other two.

Ismael left a footprint behind. Picture: Kent Police
Ismael left a footprint behind. Picture: Kent Police

Maidstone Crown Court heard he had stolen property worth £20,000 and caused damage estimated at £2,000 in less than three hours.

Ismael, of no fixed address, admitted three offences of burglary and one of perverting the course of justice.

His barrister, Chetna Patel, told the court the drug addict committed the offences out of desperation.

He was homeless, living in temporary hostel accommodation and was not being supported by his probation officer after his release from prison on September 18, she added.

But jailing Ishmael on Friday for five years and nine months, Judge Julian Smith said he had deliberately pursued a life of crime on his release, and over many years.

Maidstone Crown Court
Maidstone Crown Court

"You didn't fall back into old ways, you chose to engage in professional burglary and enrich yourself in the process.

"This was not mere survival, it was a deliberate action."

The court heard he broke into a house in London Road, Wrotham, between 4pm and 5.30pm, stealing property worth £10,000.

He then smashed his way into two houses in Station Road, Otford, with a spade stolen from a shed between 5pm and 7.30pm.

He stole goods worth another £10,000 - including the iPhone - and caused damage estimated at £2,000.

Judge Smith told Ishmael, who has convictions dating back to 1981, he had made 'a living' as a professional burglar.

"It couldn't have escaped your attention that the courts consider it a serious violation of the privacy of the homeowner and the sort of offending that causes anxiety, consternation and significant cost," he added.

"You have been punished repeatedly over the years. The submission is that you committed these offences out of desperation.

"If that is true then your life has been characterised by desperation. But it is less persuasive when the reality is you pursued these crimes."

Despite being recalled on licence after his arrest to serve the remainder of his five-year jail term imposed for robbery and burglary, the latest sentence starts immediately.

The courts can no longer impose sentences to run consecutively on those serving licence periods behind bars.

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