One of York’s most prolific burglars has been jailed after he was caught with a sack full of loot including a couple’s ‘highly sentimental’ jewellery and expensive camera equipment.
Andrew Winspear, 53, described as a “one-man crimewave”, was caught red-handed as he was cycling down Grantham Drive, about two-and-a-half hours after a burglary in Main Street, Heslington, York Crown Court heard.
Winspear and his sidekick, a woman who can’t be named at this stage, were said to be “unsteady” on their bikes when police spotted them in Grantham Drive, said prosecutor Brooke Morrison.
Officers noticed that Winspear had a large amount of seemingly brand-new toiletries on the bike and found more in his rucksack.
The named woman carried on cycling down the road but returned moments later, only without the bike which she had abandoned around the corner. She too was found with a large number of stolen items including jewellery, cameras, make-up, an MP3 player and camera accessories.
They were arrested but denied having anything to do with the burglary, claiming they had not been in the vicinity at the time.
Ms Morrison said that the victim, a named woman who lived in a cottage in Main Street, had been out for several hours when her home was burgled during the daytime.
When she returned home at about 5pm on 19 March, she noticed a glass panel in her back door had been smashed and there were “signs of a disturbance” inside the house.
“She and her husband found a large number of items missing, including jewelleries and cameras,” added Ms Morrison.
“At about 7.40pm, police stopped both defendants in Grantham Drive.”
Ms Morrison said that some of the stolen items had never been recovered and the victims were devastated.
138 previous offences
Winspear and the woman were each charged with burglary but denied the allegation. However, they both admitted an alternative charge of handling stolen goods on the first day of their trial.
They appeared for sentence via video link yesterday (Monday) after being remanded in custody.
The court heard that Winspear, of St Wulstan Close, York, had racked up 138 previous offences during his 40-year criminal career, including 34 burglaries, many thefts, robbery, taking a vehicle without consent, going equipped and handling stolen goods.
His most recent conviction was for six counts of fraud in March which resulted in a 12-month community order. He was caught with the stolen items in Grantham Drive just 17 days after that order was imposed.
The woman, who is currently in custody, also had a long criminal record but can’t yet be named for legal reasons.
Barrister Vincent Blake-Barnard, for Winspear, said the career criminal had started offending as a juvenile in the early 1980s and had been in and out of prison since then.
He said that Winspear, who had recently become a father, had become “institutionalised” and was on a Methadone script.
Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, labelled Winspear a “one-man crimewave”.
He added: “You have got 138 crimes to your name and (in this case) you handled stolen goods taken in a burglary that caused enormous trauma to the victims.
“They can’t sleep in their own beds and highly sentimental items were stolen, and you two were found with them. This stuff was fenced to you in very short order.”
The judge said Winspear hadn’t shown an ounce of remorse and his vast criminal record put him right at the top of the sentencing guidelines.
Winspear was jailed for 16 months but will be out on prison licence in half that time. His female co-defendant will be sentenced at a later date.
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