• Wed. May 22nd, 2024

Jail for 32-year-old Oxford hotel burglar with 70 previous convictions


Aug 18, 2022

A burglar swiped the keys to a swanky hotel room – before being directed to the room by members of staff.

Big-hearted burglar Jake Smith, who committed a dozen offences to pay-off his girlfriend’s drug debt, got into the room at the Vanbrugh House Hotel in St Michael’s Street and walked off with a telly.

He tried to get back into room six five days later, on May 29, but when he was unsuccessful he wandered into a staff area and got away with a laptop worth £1,250.

Smith was jailed for 32 months at Oxford Crown Court on Tuesday for the 12-count spree, which began just two days after he was given a community order by the city magistrates.

The prolific offender was said to have 70 previous convictions for more than 150 offences. Judge Ian Pringle QC, the Recorder of Oxford, labelled the total ‘staggering, bearing in mind he’s only 32 [years old]’.

Prosecuting, Cathy Olliver told the court Smith began his latest spree on April 8, when he stole an Amazon Firestick and a television from the Asda in the John Allen, Cowley.

Over the next seven weeks he returned to the same supermarket six times to steal expensive electronic equipment.

On April 26, he went behind the staff counter at Waterstones in Oxford city centre and made off with the till – repeating an earlier burglary for which he was on a community order at the time.

He took the till to St Michael’s Street and threw it against a wall in an apparent attempt to get inside. The cash register bounced off the wall and into the side of a parked Range Rover, damaging the luxury 4×4.

He was arrested and charged after shoplifting from Sainsbury’s in Heyford Hill on May 27, released on bail the following day then broke into the Vanbrugh House Hotel for the second time on May 29.

In mitigation, Smith was said to have suffered from a drug addiction that had blighted his life since his late teens.

His latest thefts were to pay-off a debt owed by his partner, who was also addicted to drugs. Emma Hornby, mitigating, said her client ‘felt the only way to assist was to go out and commit offences.” The debt was ‘now resolved’, she added.

In the four weeks since her client had been remanded, he had managed to obtain a prescription to a class A drug substitute.

His current life of committing offences was ‘not the example’ he wanted to set his two stepchildren, Ms Hornby added. “He doesn’t want prison to become a revolving door.”

Smith, of Luther Street, Oxford, admitted theft, non-dwelling burglary and criminal damage.

Sentencing, Judge Pringle told Smith yesterday: “You have to understand that if you commit these sort of offences on a repeat basis, your sentences will get longer and longer.”

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward