Thief Spared Jail After 83rd Burglary

A thief who has committed more than 80 burglaries has been spared jail after he wrote an “unusually frank” letter to the judge hearing his case.

But he has been warned that if he spurns the chance the judge has given him to turn his life around he will “pay a heavy price”.

Southcote man Edward Scovell told the judge he is determined to change his ways as he is 40 now and does not want to be a 50-year-old in jail.

Scovell admitted stealing around £2,500 of jewellery from a house in Oxford Road, Wokingham, shortly after Christmas last year at an earlier hearing and was sentenced by Judge Stephen Johns at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday, May 18.

The crime was Scovell’s 83rd burglary and he has already been sentenced to a total of 23 years in jail, of which he has served 13.

Judge John said: “You are liable to the three strikes rule and you would have no cause for complaint if I sentenced you to three years.

“I’m obliged to pass such a sentence unless there are circumstances which would make it unjust to do so – such circumstances exist here.

“You have written an unusually frank letter to me. I viewed it with scepticism but I do respect the judgment of the probation officer.

“You are 40 and you do not wish to be a 50-year-old convict. Refusing you a further chance to address your drug taking habit would be unjust.”

Judge John gave Scovell an 18-month community order and a 12-month supervision order. He must attend a drug rehabilitation course and he must live in probation approved property.

Scovell committed his most recent burglary between Tuesday, December 28, last year and Monday, January 10, this year while the occupants of the house were on holiday.

He had only been released from his last prison sentence for burglary in November last year. He stole items including the husband’s white gold wedding ring and his wife’s mother’s engagement ring.

Judge John added: “If you let me down on the chance I have given you, you will pay a heavy price.”