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Burglar broke into home to steal guns.

Byline: GARETH LIGHTFOOT gareth.lightfoot@trinitymirror.com @GazetteCourt

A DRUNKEN burglar was caught in the street with a loaded shotgun by police after he stole six guns from a man's home.

David Mole, 33, invaded the owner's home, forced open a gun cabinet and stole four shotguns and two rifles, worth a total of PS7,400, and a box of shotgun cartridges.

He stole the six firearms and ammunition while their rightful owner - a licensed member of a gun club - was out, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He drilled the lock from a safe and stole about PS500 from the Hartlepool home on October 10 last year.

The homeowner was the ex-partner of Mole's girlfriend, 35-year-old Laura Atkinson, who had access and permission to enter the home.

Prosecutor Philip Morley said Mole was seen carrying a large holdall, then he chatted online about selling the guns the next day.

In a Facebook Messenger conversation, an apparent buyer said: "I'll probably take two."

Plain clothes officers stopped Mole leaving his home on Uppingham Street, Hartlepool, carrying a black gun case.

The case contained one of the weapons - a loaded 12-bore shotgun with two live cartridges in the barrel, its safety catch off.

The other guns were found in Mole's home.

Mole was "clearly under the influence of something, his speech was slurred and his eyes were glazed", Mr Morley added.

He was not fit to be interviewed until the next day.

He initially denied being responsible for the burglary but confessed he had the shotgun, saying he did not know why he had loaded it.

Mole later admitted burglary, possessing a loaded firearm and possessing a firearm without a certificate.

He had 31 previous offences including possessing a weapon, but none for burglary or firearms.

Rachel Dyson, defending Mole, said he acted out of character in an opportunistic, last-minute, "incredibly reckless and foolish thing to do". She said: "Mr Mole wishes to express how sorry he is for his actions.

"He appreciates now the stress and the upset that he has caused to a number of people."

She said Mole, who appeared for sentence via video link to Durham Prison, had always worked but had to stop because of a degenerative back condition.

Mole became depressed, drank and took medication - a "lethal cocktail", added Ms Dyson.

Now Mole intended to improve himself inside, where he was a drugs rehabilitation mentor described as a respectful, polite and reliable "role model".

Judge Howard Crowson told Mole: "You must have known what you were going for. You had with you a drill. The property was clearly targeted. There was some degree of planning.

"You were stopped in the street with a loaded shotgun.

"It's a lethal weapon. This one was in a very dangerous state. The safety catch was off.

"It's clear you were not intending to use the weapon in violent crime."

Mole was jailed for three years and four months.

Atkinson admitted theft. Judge Crowson said she played a limited role in a "targeted and deliberate" theft which had already started by the time she arrived.

He told her: "You should have had nothing to do with it."

The victim, her ex, said in a statement he did not want her to go to prison.

Given his "generous" attitude and her responsibilities as a mother, the judge gave her a 27-week jail term suspended for a year with 80 hours' unpaid work.

CAPTION(S):

David Mole, who has been jailed for three years and four months. Left is his girlfriend Laura Atkinson, who was given a suspended sentence
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Mar 7, 2018
Words:595
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