Leigh Park thief who attempted to escape Southleigh Park House and got stuck in tree is jailed

A THIEF who acrobatically jumped onto a tree to escape being caught stealing at a Victorian country house rooftop before being lowered down by firefighters has been jailed.

Sunday, 4th July 2021, 11:40 am

James Garland, 37, was spared jail last December at Portsmouth Crown Court after being caught red-handed attempting to steal lead roofing from Havant mansion Southleigh Park House – which was left with a bill of £6,500.

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Garland along with two other men went to the Eastleigh Road location on July 21 last year after 9pm to steal the roofing before the defendant was caught.

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Portsmouth Crown Court Picture: César Moreno Huerta

After carefully navigating his way onto the top of the Grade II country house, Garland was quickly caught out after security ‘heard someone on the roof’.

Speaking at his previous sentencing hearing, judge Timothy Mousley QC said: ‘You jumped into a tree – but were easily found. Firefighters had to get you down.’

But despite being caught in the act Garland, of Crawley Avenue, Leigh Park, remained tight-lipped over his misdemeanour.

‘You were caught red-handed – I don’t understand why you persisted with a not guilty plea until a week before the trial,’ the judge said.

‘During your police interview you gave “no comment” answers” – but the evidence was overwhelming.’

Prior to that offence in June 2020 Garland was given a nine month jail term suspended for 12 months for dangerous driving for an offence in December 2017.

It meant the defendant, who admitted a charge of theft for the Southleigh Park House raid, was also in breach of that suspended sentence.

Despite that, judge Mousley gave Garland one final chance after the Southleigh Park House theft – with the defendant handed a 15-month jail term suspended for 18-months.

Philip Allman, defending, had pleaded with the judge not to send Garland to jail with him saying it would be ‘disastrous’ for the recovering drug addict.

‘If he goes to prison today the chance of him being found on the roof again increases,’ he said.

It was also pointed out that Garland had remained out of trouble for 17 months before the offences in 2020.

Judge Mousley concluded: ‘Uppermost in my mind is to deter you from committing these types of offences.’

However despite the reprieve, on Friday Garland was finally jailed after breaching his latest suspended sentence and for offences of criminal damage and common assault.

He was given a prison term of 10 months.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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