Portsmouth burglar who struggled with HIV diagnosis carried out £15,000 raid and went on £20,000 fraudulent spending spree

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AN HIV sufferer who was struggling to come to terms with his illness has been jailed after he burgled a house and went on a lavish fraudulent spending spree that saw him pocket more than £35,000 in total.

Drug and alcohol addict Mark Hawkins, 42, burgled a house in Station Road, Drayton, between September 27 and October 30 last year after plunging into debt for his three gram-a-day cocaine habit.

Mark Hawkins

Mark Hawkins

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how the defendant and an accomplice, to whom he owed money, smashed through double-glazed glass to enter the house before hacking into a wall to reach a safe while the owners were away on a dream holiday.

Hawkins stole items worth up to £15,000 including watches, jewellery, handbags and bank cards, as well as sentimental items.

Prosecutor Martyn Booth told the court: ‘The most difficult aspect for the victims was that they were away on a dream holiday thousands of miles away.

‘The house was being looked after by their mum in her 70s. They had to cut short the holiday at short notice and come home.

‘It caused a great deal of anxiety and left the victims feeling physically sick. There was extreme distress following the intrusion into their house.’

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Hawkins then used bank cards he had stolen to pay for items at a service station, a burger van and a kebab house.

But hapless Hawkins had left his DNA at the scene of the burglary while he was also captured on CCTV using the bank cards.

The court was told how the defendant, in unrelated incidents to the burglary, embarked on a campaign of fraud that saw him paying for expensive items and hotels across the country on illicit Vanilla Mastercards.

These included a nine-carat gold chain and bracelet from a jewellers in Wales costing the card owner £2,135 in February last year.

At another jewellers in Wales he splashed out £7,200 on watches in July 2018.

On another occasion in Hereford he bought a Rolex watch but when subsequently attempting to buy rings worth £1,300 the card was refused with staff retaining the card after becoming suspicious of Hawkins. 

In total, his fraudulent spending amounted to £20,176.

Defending, Richard Hutchings put the criminality down to Hawkins’ HIV diagnosis four years ago. ‘All he saw was a life sentence and one he could not come to terms with,’ he said. ‘It was the catalyst for his behaviour.’

Mr Hutchings added that Hawkins committed the burglary after being in £1,500 of debt to his cocaine dealer. ‘He was under pressure and was suggested to go with (the dealer to commit the burglary),’ he said.

Hawkins, who is already serving a term of 22 months jail, admitted burglary, 19 fraud charges, three counts of possessing articles for use of fraud, two charges of possessing identification documents with improper intent and possessing cannabis.

All the offences took place between April 1 to November 10, 2018.

Judge Roger Hetherington branded the offences ‘sophisticated and serious’ with the burglary ‘targeted’.

Hawkins, of no fixed abode, was locked up for four years and one month.