A notorious criminal and convicted rapist is back behind bars after burgling his neighbour’s home – then using a taxi service to go on a thieving spree in York.
David Heath, 35, who was on life prison licence following his rape conviction in 2006, kicked down the door to the victim’s flat and then ransacked the property.
Before that, his 25-year-old accomplice and serial thief Abbie Lee tried to batter it down with a fire extinguisher and later threatened the victim with a large knife, York Crown Court heard.
When the victim returned home, he found his lights on, the door shattered and his belongings strewn all around the room, said prosecutor Nicoleta Alistari.
Immediately after the burglary, while the victim was still out, Heath and Lee took a taxi to the BP petrol station in Lawrence Street where they stole a “selection” of food and alcohol.
They then got back in the cab and asked to be taken to a cash machine in Tang Hall to pay the fare, but then ran off without paying.
They then returned to the Changing Lives hostel in Burnholme Avenue where Heath lived one floor above the burglary victim, who was terrified anew when drug and drink-addled Lee pulled a ‘ferocious’ knife from her waistband.
Police were called and Heath and Lee were arrested at the scene. They were each charged with burglary with intent to steal, shop theft and making off without payment. They admitted all three offences.
Drinking and smoking cannabis
Lee, of St Wulstan Close, York, also admitted common assault in relation to the knife incident. They appeared for sentence on Friday.
Ms Alistari said Heath and Lee had been drinking and smoking cannabis in Heath’s room at the hostel for vulnerable people run by the Changing Lives charity in the hours before the burglary on July 20.
Knowing that the victim had left the building, they snuck round to his flat at about midnight equipped with various tools, including a wrench, which Heath used to try to force the door open.
When this failed, Lee picked up a fire extinguisher and tried to break the door down. Heath then forced the door open with a “backward kick”.
“About an hour after they got in the room, they ordered a taxi and drove to the garage in Lawrence Street,” said Ms Alistari.
They stole various food and alcohol at the Marks & Spencer store at the service station including six bottles of Henry Westons cider.
They then got back in the cab and asked the female driver to take them to the cash machine at the Co-op in Bad Bargain Lane, but the pair ran off to the hostel without paying the £14 fare.
Ms Alistari said the taxi driver was “distressed” and dared not pursue them because she feared for her own safety.
Threatened with a knife
When the named burglary victim returned home, he found his room ransacked and believed there to be £200 cash missing.
Heath and Lee were loitering in the communal area and walked up to him in his doorway where he was subjected to a volley of abuse.
CCTV footage showed Lee walking back downstairs and “arming herself with a large knife from the kitchen”.
She secreted the blade in the waistband of her trousers and walked back to the victim’s flat, threatening him while pulling the knife in and out of her waistband “two or three times”.
The victim said he was terrified at the sight of the knife because, in Lee’s “agitated” state, he didn’t know “what she was capable of”. He was so badly affected he later moved out of the hostel.
Heath was on indefinite licence recall following his life sentence for aggravated burglary and three counts of rape in 2006. He had previous convictions for 38 offences including violence, theft and possessing drugs and offensive weapons.
Lee had 36 previous convictions for 74 offences, mainly for shoplifting but also assault and battery.
Simon Walker, for Heath, said his client had been recalled to prison immediately after his arrest for his latest offences.
“Very depressingly, he has spent almost half of his life in custody and almost his entire adult life,” added Mr Walker.
Neil Cutte, for Lee, said she too had a drink and drug problem and had a support worker in York.
Jailing Heath for 15 months, judge Simon Hickey said there “could be no other sentence but immediate custody” for such serious offences.
Although Heath will only serve half of that sentence behind bars, he will have to persuade the Parole Board that he is fit to be released due to his pre-existing life term.
Lee was jailed for 16 months but she too will only serve half of that sentence behind bars before being released on prison licence.