‘I cannot explain the overwhelming hurt’ – Boss betrayed as employee of 18 years breaks into and burgles business

PUBLISHED: 12:52 19 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:52 19 May 2017

Cook was sentenced at Stevenage Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Cook was sentenced at Stevenage Magistrates' Court on Monday.

Archant

A decorating company boss was ‘horrendously’ betrayed when an employee of 18 years smashed into the business to burgle it.

Vincent Cook, 38, burgled Haycroft Decorating in Stevenage on December 12 last year – with owner Scott Norris regularly waking up at night afterwards, wondering if his business was safe.

Mr Norris had among other things stopped Cook’s house from being repossessed, helped to fend off bailiffs and paid bills for him.

Cook, of Kyrkeby in Letchworth, was given a year-long community sentence by Stevenage magistrates on Monday after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing – and must complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

But he was only ordered to pay £322 compensation to Mr Norris, as well as £85 costs and £85 surcharge.

Mr Norris, who looked on from the public gallery, told the Comet afterwards that he didn’t feel justice had been done.

“It’s absolutely horrendous,” he said. “You’ve trusted someone for 18 years and looked out for him. Then he goes and does this.

“I won’t ever help anyone else now. It’s just knocked it out of me completely.

“And this sentence doesn’t make up for it at all. Apart from everything else, I’m £2,000 out of pocket. I don’t believe justice has been done at all.”

In an impact statement to the court, Mr Norris told how he had bent over backwards to help Cook over the years, far beyond what could be expected from any employer.

He said: “I have helped him out on numerous occasions – to stop his house being repossessed by the council on two occasions, to stop the bailiffs taking his property on at least four occasions, paid for his gas, electric and water on more than one occasion.

“Vincent always knew that if he was desperate he could always come to me for help.

“I cannot explain the overwhelming hurt and upset it has caused me personally.”

He went on: “For the first few weeks after the burglary I often woke up in the night and wondered if my premises were safe, and travelled down to my premises on numerous occasions to check if they were safe.

“This has now subsided, but I still get worried when I go into my premises in the morning that I am going to find someone inside, or that I have been broken into again.”

Mr Norris told the Comet separately that Cook had stolen tools worth £1,500 and sold them on for only £50.

Cook, who had been set to be sentenced at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court on March 23, secured an adjournment on that occasion by insisting on seeing receipts showing the cost of repairs before he would pay out any compensation for the damage he had caused.

The magistrates reluctantly adjourned the case at that stage, apologising to Mr Norris personally.

Prosecutor Shahida Parveen said at that hearing that during the burglary £2,310 worth of damage had been caused to the premises in the Stevenage Enterprise Centre, off Orchard Road.

Cook also admitted stealing goods worth £113.92 from the Stevenage branch of Toys R Us on December 29, and assaulting a woman there on the same date – for which he must pay another £95 compensation, bringing his total bill up to £587.

No compensation was ordered to be paid to Toys R Us because the stolen goods were recovered.

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