Relief as Portsmouth burglar is sent to jail

Darren Martin
Darren Martin
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IT WAS an unsuccessful crime which struck fear into the hearts of its victims.

And now burglar Darren Martin, 42, of New Road, Portsmouth, has been sentenced to 40 months behind bars for his actions.

About 11.30pm on November 13 last year he entered the back garden of a property in Laburnum Grove, North End and tried to pry open the house’s rear door with a trowel.

Failing in his attempt, Martin broke a bathroom window instead and crawled through, cutting his hand in the process.

After ransacking the downstairs rooms he went upstairs and turned the light on in a bedroom - where the occupants, Paul and Anne, were sleeping.

Anne, 51, who did not want to give their surname, said: ‘It was horrendous – the most horrible thing that’s ever happened in my life.

‘Seeing his blood on the light switch and the wall afterwards was the worst thing.’

The couple woke up, at first thinking it was their 24-year-old son, Jack, returning late from a night out. But as the man moved back downstairs, Paul got up to investigate.

He said: ‘As I’m walking down the stairs I was still thinking it was Jack.

‘Then I could feel a draught and I thought, right, why is the back door open?

‘Then I saw the smashed window.’

Martin made off with only a couple of sets of keys and a rucksack. But police were able to identify him through the blood left at the scene, and after he was found and arrested, Martin pleaded guilty.

Paul and Ann moved to Portsmouth from Corby only about a year ago to be closer to their daughter, Hannah, and one-year-old grandson, Jasper.

Ann said they were reluctant to look after their grandson at home after the burglary, but they had now updated their home security and felt safer. She said they also wanted to thank the police for their efforts.

The hefty penalty for the burglary was partly due to Martin’s long record – since his first dwelling burglary in 1998 he has clocked up 37 convictions for 88 offences.

The court heard Martin had been out of prison for 22 months before this incident.

Defence barrister Bridget O’Hagen said he had been doing voluntary work and had steered clear of drugs, but, she added, an ex-girlfriend who he got back in touch with had encouraged him to fall back on bad habits.

Police seized £255 from Martin, which judge Sarah Monro said should go to the victims as compensation.