BURGLAR Andrew Woods has told of how he was wracked with guilt after hearing how his crimes ruined victims’ lives and left them terrified.
Woods went on a one-man spree targeting 12 homes in three months – in one burglary stealing irreplaceable jewellery from a widow pensioner.
He was forced to listen to the effect his crimes had on his victims at an earlier hearing and when he was jailed.
Speaking to The News just minutes before he was jailed for 27 months, the dad-of-two said: ‘It killed me inside.’
‘It was horrible to hear what she’d actually gone through, what I’d inflicted on her. If I could put something right I’d do it but it’s out of my hands.’
The 46-year-old admitted two burglaries he was charged with – and confessed to 10 others that may never have otherwise been solved.
He added: ‘It was all playing in my mind. I was going through a stressful time.
‘When the police knocked the door I was pleased.’
Distraught victims’ impact statements were read out at Portsmouth Crown Court by prosecutor Tammy Mears.
One woman, 72, told of her devastation that irreplaceable jewellery given to her by her late husband was taken by Woods from her bungalow.
None of the jewellery has been recovered as Woods, of Twyford Avenue, Stamshaw, refused to tell police who he sold it on to.
Reading the statement Ms Mears said the woman returned home at 4.30pm to find a smashed window.
‘I was terrified that the burglar might still be in my house so I rushed over to my neighbour’s house,’ she said.
‘The shock of finding my lovely bungalow had been entered by a stranger had hit me very hard.
‘I had been so happy here, now I feel this has been taken away from me.
‘He stole my beautiful jewellery my husband gave me and with this he stole many of my happy memories.’
Some of the most sentimentally precious items were given to the victim by her husband in Libya, where the two lived in the 1970s.
Another victim, whose home in Greenacre Gardens, Waterlooville, was burgled on January 12, said he now obsessively checked a smart phone linked to a new £500 security system installed after the burglary.
Reading his and his wife’s statement, Ms Mears said: ‘I have been severely impacted in our day to day lives.’
He added: ‘During the first few weeks after the burglary I was unable to sleep.’
The security system cost the married couple £500.
‘I find myself constantly checking this on my phones while at work,’ he added.
‘We previously loved our home and thought we would live here forever, now we are considering moving.’
In that burglary, the owner left in the morning around 8am before returning at 6.10pm to find they could not open the front door.
He went round the back to find a bottom pane of glass had been smashed – the door joining the conservatory and kitchen had also been smashed through.
Woods ransacked the home on January 27, stealing £370 in £20 notes, and jewellery.
In the second burglary Woods was charged with, he took gold jewellery and watches from a home in Park Avenue, Waterlooville.
The owner came home to find the cupboards and drawers flung open in the kitchen and bedroom, with clothes across the main bedroom.
Two watches, Euros, Olympic 50p pieces totalling £50, a broach and gold bracelet were among items taken.
They were at least nine carat gold.
In both crimes Woods used a blunt instrument to try and get into the homes before smashing his way in.
He was detected by forensics which found his DNA on a cupboard handle and he was arrested on January 28.
Sentencing Woods, Judge Ian Pearson said: ‘I feel that deterrence is required for domestic burglaries.’
Thief has long history of committing crimes
WOODS has a long past having been in and of court.
The 46-year-old’s latest admissions take his number of burglaries to more than 30.
He has 24 convictions for 83 offences – dating back to 1985.
But now after pleading guilty to two burglaries he was charged with, and confessing to an extra 10 in Waterlooville, Purbrook and Widley to be taken into consideration, he will get help he needs.
Woods is on Hampshire Constabulary’s Clean Slate scheme, which will get him with help when he is out of prison.
Police say the scheme means the victims get closure.
Detective Constable Jim Wells said: ‘Having spoken at length with Andrew and the reasons behind his crimes he was identified as a good candidate for the Clean Slate process which resulted in admissions.
‘As a result of Andrew engaging in the programme we have an agreement with him to set him up with the support he needs.
‘The admission of additional offences is particularly significant to the victims of these crimes. We have been able to bring closure to their case and a form of justice.’
Hampshire police’s scheme aims to tackle the reasons why criminals commit offences.
Force lead on the scheme Detective Superintendent Paul Barton said: ‘This support could be in the form of a drugs intervention project or education and training for example.
‘We also send a letter to the trial judge explaining the defendant’s willingness to engage in the programme.
‘It enables this person to make a completely fresh start and move forward positively.’
Woods said he had been caring for his elderly parents when his offending was triggered. He added: ‘I had a good job and all that before but I had to give it up because of my mother’s health.
‘I’m devastated for the people what I’ve done it to.
‘There’s nothing personal, to any one of the people.’
In court, his defence barrister Louisa Bagley added: ‘There are some 16 years between the last time he committed a dishonest offence, a burglary offence, and these offences taking place.’