Notorious Portsmouth thief avoids jail – despite pleading guilty to 19th offence of handling stolen goods

A NOTORIOUS Portsmouth thief and drug addict was spared jail after probation spoke ‘positively’ of him.

Neil Braithwaite, 51, of Milton Road, was back in familiar surroundings at Portsmouth Crown Court after pleading guilty to his nineteenth offence of handling stolen goods.

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

The court heard how the infamous defendant was spotted cycling with a rucksack on his back by police during a random patrol along Guildford Road after midnight in May.

Officers then stopped Braithwaite to question him. ‘They asked him if he had been drug dealing but found no drugs on him when they carried out a search,’ prosecutor Daniel Sawyer said.

‘Police did find a number of other items on him including a laptop, Playstation and tablet. He said they belonged to him but when an officer asked what the screensaver was he did not know and became very uneasy. He was then arrested for burglary.’

At the police station Braithwaite claimed he bought the items at a pawn shop, which were said to be worth £1,000.

Braithwaite was not charged for burglary but admitted handling stolen goods.

The stolen goods were part of a burglary from a house which also resulted in a van being stolen with £2,000 worth of tools inside. ‘There is no question someone else received other property from the house,’ Mr Sawyer said.

The court was read a victim impact statement where the homeowner confessed: ‘I feel violated that someone came into my house and burgled it when I was asleep. I haven’t told my children, who stay at weekends, because I don’t want to worry them.’

He added: ‘I lost two days of work trying to sort this out and didn’t have insurance for my tools which were worth £2,000.’

The court heard heroin user Braithwaite has burglary, drug and theft offences dating back to 1981 and only came out of prison in in November 2016 for his latest burglary.

But a probation officer, addressing the court, said the defendant had made an effort to curb his ways and has attended most of his appointments.

Judge William Ashworth acknowledged Braithwaite’s prolific offending with his latest offence ‘crossing the custody threshold’ but added: ‘Probation speaks positively of you changing your ways.’

The judge then handed down an 18 month prison sentence which he suspended for two years.