A YOUNG burglar with a history of offending entered the home of a man who had just set up a roofing business and made off with his van.

The £10,000 van was found abandoned and burnt out – and tools worth £1,000 had disappeared.

It had a devastating impact on the new venture, Mold Crown Court was told yesterday.

Judge Rhys Rowlands would question why the prosecution had accepted a basis of plea that the defendant knew nothing of the van being set alight, telling the court it offended common sense for someone else to have broken into the vehicle and set it on fire after being abandoned.

Nineteen-year-old Tyrone Christopher Scott Hughes, admitted burglary at a house at Maes y Parc, Chirk, which meant he was facing a three-year minimum sentence because of his previous record.

But barrister Andrew Green, defending, successfully argued a three-year term would be unjust because his client was just 13 when he committed the first burglary.

Hughes, of Bran, Acrefair, received a 21-month sentence of youth detention after he admitted burglary over the incident in May.

Judge Rowlands told the court that sadly it was not the first time Hughes had burgled people’s homes.

He had received a referral
order for a house burglary in 2010.

At the time of the present burglary he was on licence after being released from custody for another house break-in.

It seemed as if Hughes was determined to continue offending, but Judge Rowlands warned him that if he did it again then it would be three years or more next time.

It was a serious burglary committed at night when the premises were occupied.

The family were at home at the time, the loss to them has been very significant and had caused a lot of trauma, he said.

Judge Rowlands queried why the prosecution had accepted a basis of plea in which the defendant said he knew
nothing of the van being set alight.

It offended common sense, he said, for Hughes to have burgled the house and stolen the keys, taken the van from outside and filled it with fuel – but that someone else must have broken into it and set it alight after it was abandoned.

But Hughes would be sentenced in accordance with his basis of plea, the judge said.

The court heard Jones was arrested after he was caught on CCTV at a petrol filling station placing fuel in the stolen van.

Barrister Matthew Curtis, prosecuting, said victim Michael Jones had saved hard and received money from his father to help set up the new roofing business.

He had purchased a van for £10,000 in April and it
contained tools to the value of £1,000.

But the burglary had a devastating effect on the plans and Mr Jones felt as if his life had been ruined.

Mr Jones, his partner and two children had been asleep in
their beds when the burglary occurred.

They got up in the morning to find the house door was open, the keys to the vehicle had been taken from the kitchen and the van had disappeared.

It was later found burnt out in the Acrefair area.

“The complainant’s business and livelihood had, he felt at the time, been ruined,” said Mr Curtis.

The victim had been left in shock and disbelief.

Police made enquiries, Hughes was captured on CCTV putting fuel in the van, and when his photograph was circulated among police officers he was recognised.

When police went to his home with a search warrant he was wearing the same T-shirt he had worn at the garage.

It emerged the van had been stolen close to where Hughes had then been staying and was abandoned near to where his mother lived.

Mr Green, defending, said it was a shame a young man with his whole life ahead of him should find himself facing a minimum three-year sentence.

On his release he had been living with his partner and child and believed he had turned the corner.

But he had returned to offending, which was blamed on deep seated problems that went back to his childhood.

However, Hughes was just 13 when the first house burglary occurred and the court might consider it unjust to impose the statutory minimum three-year sentence, he said.