THE son of a pensioner who was burgled by a drug addict with more than 130 previous convictions has criticised a judge’s decision to let him walk free.
Daniel Cassey had committed his third burglary, which under ‘three strikes and you’re out’ legislation introduced in 1999 meant he was facing at least three years behind bars.
His victim, 78-year-old victim Arthur Allen, who lived alone, died a few weeks after the burglary, on September 20, of pneumonia.
But a judge at Portsmouth Crown Court ruled there were ‘exceptional circumstances’ and allowed Cassey, 31, to keep his liberty.
The pensioner’s son, 39-year-old Shaun Cairns-Allen, of Megson Drive, Gosport, said: ‘The sentence was pretty abysmal.
‘He only stole £80 off my dad and didn’t harm him or anything, but there comes a point when you have to take into consideration a person’s past.
‘I was grateful it wasn’t anything more serious but it shouldn’t have happened.
‘They set the law but in the background they have these exceptions.
‘It seems they just make these laws up to keep the public happy.’
Cassey had talked his way into Mr Allen’s home in Braemer Road, Gosport, by asking to borrow a carrier bag in August last year.
When the pensioner went into his kitchen to find one, Cassey ducked into his lounge and grabbed £80 from Mr Allen’s wallet, which was left on a table.
Cassey, of no fixed address, was arrested after the police found his fingerprints on the bag dumped in Mr Allen’s garden.
He told police he needed it because he wanted it to go shoplifting and had not intended to steal from Mr Allen.
Daniel Riley, defending, said: ‘Being some 3ft or so from what he could see was a bank-note or bank-notes led to him weakening in that moment.
He added: ‘Mr Cassey is essentially asking the court to deal with him in a way which certainly others might say could be seen as lenient.’
Cassey, who has been convicted of 137 previous offences including robbery, pleaded guilty to burglary.
Judge Graham White handed him a 51-week prison sentence suspended for two years. He will also have 12 months of drug treatment and 18 months of supervision.
Judge White said there were ‘a number of reasons’ not to impose a prison sentence. He said Cassey had not gone into Mr Allen’s house intending to steal from him. And he said the previous burglary offences had been dealt with at magistrates’ court which showed they were ‘low level offences’.
He said Cassey had already spent the equivalent of a six-month jail sentence while he was on remand.
He told him: ‘You have an opportunity here to get your life turned around. Be positive about it but be aware of the warning I have given you.’