Burglar from Lympstone given chance to beat drugs

PUBLISHED: 09:22 21 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:22 21 December 2016

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Alex Walton

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A judge has given a serial burglar a final chance to overcome his drug habit after hearing how he was working well with rehabilitation counsellors.

Dominic Smith was supposed to have spent six months at a residential rehabilitation centre at Lynton, but the regime was not suited to his needs and he will now be supervised by drug workers in Exeter.

He was liable for a three-year sentence under the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule, but a judge at Exeter Crown Court ruled it would be unjust to invoke it because of his sincere desire to beat his drug habit.

Smith was treated for a short time at the Freedom Community at Croscombe Barton, near Lynton, but will now be supervised by probation and the addiction service Rise.

Smith, 36, of Glebelands, Lympstone, admitted stealing a laptop, briefcase, Kindle, phone, purse and bank cards in a burglary at a house in Bicton Place, Exmouth, on July 22.

He asked for a burglary, attempted burglary and possession of an offensive weapon to be considered.

These relate to stealing keys and two handbags at Summerhayes Rest Home in Exmouth on December 12, 2015, and entering Subway in Exmouth with intent to steal on January 22 this year, when he was found with two pairs of secateurs after his arrest.

Recorder Mr Philip Mott, QC, ordered him to receive drug rehabilitation as part of a three-year community order and receive 45 days’ probation supervision.

He told him: “I am impressed by the fact you came clean of drugs and set out proactively to find the Freedom Centre. It shows you are highly motivated to change.

“Things have not gone as you hoped, but you have contacted the court this week through your solicitors to explain that, even though you knew your liberty could be at risk.

“Your motivation to change is still there and the report from Rise says you are suitable for a drug rehabilitation requirement. I have come to the conclusion it would be unjust to send you straight to custody.

“If you breach these orders, you are likely to come back to court and the option of a sentence of around five years is still there.”

Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said the most serious offence was the burglary of the family home in Exmouth in which a number of valuable items were stolen.

The others involved walk-in raids on a care home and a food shop.

Mr Barry White, defending, said that even though Smith’s stay in North Devon had proved unsuccessful, the reports from probation and Rise remained very positive and he deserved a chance to turn his back on drugs and crime once and for all.

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