• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Jail for ‘brazen’ burglar’s spree in Great Milton

Byoxfordnewspaper

Aug 18, 2022

A ‘brazen’ burglar stole cash from the pub where he had earlier left a novelty Star Wars ‘Stormtrooper’ mask, a court heard.

The break-in at The Bull pub in Great Milton, which was captured on CCTV, was part of a 24-hour spree committed by Richard Harris during a drugs and alcohol binge.

Jailing him for three years at Oxford Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Michael Gledhill QC said: “You say you haven’t had the support that you need. You may be right, I don’t know. But if you’re not resolved to get off drugs no amount of support will get you off drugs.”

Prosecutor Matthew Knight earlier told the court that Harris, 44, would ‘often frequent’ The Bull pub. He was drinking there on the evening of June 7 and, after leaving, the landlady texted him to say he had left behind a ‘Stormtrooper’ mask.

He returned to the public house and banged on the doors and windows until the landlady opened up and handed over the Star Wars-themed face covering.

At 12.45am he walked into Countax House, a factory off the A329 near Great Milton making ride-on lawnmowers, then walked out with three rucksacks swiped from the canteen and a projector and laptop stolen from an office.

He returned to where he was staying and deposited the rucksacks then returned to the same business at 1.45am. He left empty handed after employees at the firm discovered him hiding in a bush.

Harris returned to The Bull and got in through an open window in the lavatory. Wearing gloves, he broke into the cash register and stole the evening’s takings of £196.

Later that day, he 'brazenly' managed to get past the door buzzer and into the Burns Dental Laboratory, near Wheatley, on the pretext of waiting for a female friend who worked at the company.

Staff at the business, who later said they ‘felt silly’ for not having confronted him, were suspicious and one offered to call him a taxi.

He left briefly then returned, using the same ruse to get past the front door. He picked up three Amazon parcels, which unknown to him contained vitamins, and stuffed them under his jumper.

Harris made a third attempt but the doors remained locked. He tried the door handles of two cars parked outside the lab, managing to steal a work laptop and bag from one.

The thefts complete, he met a friend – the same woman who worked at the dental lab – at The Lamb Inn, in nearby Little Milton, where he showed her the laptop bag he had just stolen. The police were called and Harris was arrested. He initially denied involvement, but came clean after a search of his accommodation uncovered the stolen booty.

Mr Knight said all but a hearing aid, which had been left in one of the bags stolen from Countax, was recovered.

Mitigating, Bethan Chichester told the court her client, a married father, had returned to drink and drugs when his life ‘spiralled’ after he was seriously assaulted in Birmingham. “He felt it quite unfair the gentleman who had severely attacked him faced no punishment.”

Harris was ‘desperate’ for help to address his issues with drugs and alcohol, the court heard.

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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