Published: 14:45, 15 August 2018
| Updated: 14:49, 15 August 2018
A repeat offender found in a drunken state in a shed he tried to burgle had his sentence reduced after he saved an inmate trying to hang himself.
Johnathan Towers had escaped a prison sentence for burglary but returned to his old ways nine months later and broke into a garden shed, a court heard.
Now, he has been jailed for 13 months – after a judge reduced his sentence by two months for saving another prison inmate from hanging.
The 37-year-old, who has more than 34 previous convictions for 60 offences, was given eight months suspended for two years in September last year after a judge said a “more robust” sentence was needed.
It included six months drug rehabilitation and 150 hours unpaid work.
But the same judge was told Towers, of School Lane, Lower Halstow, had not been fit for unpaid work and had not received any treatment under the drug order.
He was previously living in Saxton Street in Gillingham when he broke into a house there and then claimed he had gone there to hunt down a man who snatched his bag in the street.
The victim returned home in July last year to find the front door locked from the inside and the French doors smashed open. Property and £550 in cash was missing.
In the latest offence committed on June 8 this year, Towers broke into a garden shed at the Sittingbourne home of Susan Adams, who had previously employed him in her gardening business, Garden Care.
She went to the shed, where she stored gardening equipment, and saw that Towers was trying to force the padlock.
He then claimed he had been locked in by someone, but hole was found in the side of the shed, said prosecutor Antony Hook.
“He was in a drunken state and was confused about how he got in and couldn’t get out...” - prosecutor Antony Hook
“It seems clear he had forced his way in through the hole,” he told Maidstone Crown Court.
“He was in a drunken state and was confused about how he got in and couldn’t get out.”
Property had been moved from both the shed and the house porch. A car was parked outside. At one stage, Towers produced a gardening knife.
He went to the car but the key was removed to stop him leaving. A knife was in his shorts and he was becoming aggressive.
“There was vandalism, property was taken and he used a knife to gain entry,” said Mr Hook. “He knew there would be items within to steal.”
Judge Julian Smith said: “He was absolutely pie eyed in someone’s shed. He claimed it was some bizarre prank.”
Keith Yardy, defending, said the father-of-three had written a “heartfelt” letter to the court in which he asked for another chance.
Mr Yardy said Towers had suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome since saving another inmate from hanging while other prisoners did nothing.
“He makes the point he can’t get the help he needs in prison,” he said. “He has made efforts. He has registered for a plumbing course. That is in jeopardy. His mother is terminally ill.”
Judge Smith said Towers was heavily intoxicated when committing the offence as a result of addictions that had been the bane of his life. He had failed to comply with court orders.
"You saved the life of a young man who in desperation sought to take his life..." - Judge Julian Smith
“You have a genuine sense of remorse and regret,” he said. “Your record is a long one. I accept your sentiments are heartfelt. You have struggled with mental problems for some years.
“There is goodness in you, demonstrated while on remand. You took action where others didn’t. You saved the life of a young man who in desperation sought to take his life.
“That is to your credit. I reduce the sentence to reflect what is in my judgement, a selfless and courageous act on your part.
“You may feel you should be given another chance. I gave you a chance because it seemed the time had come where you should demonstrate you were able to change.
“I provided you with an opportunity. You will understand those opportunities are not limitless and not to be repeated. When they fail, they can’t simply be ignored.
“I understand why you struggle. I understand your anxiety and stress but repeat offending cannot be tolerated. I reduce the sentence by two months, given your actions in custody.”
Towers was sentenced to eight months for burglary and five months consecutive for breaching the suspended sentence.