Jailed Stotfold burglar spent five days trashing victim’s Lake District home

Jailed Stotfold burglar Darren Spicer, 44. Picture: Cumbria police

Jailed Stotfold burglar Darren Spicer, 44. Picture: Cumbria police - Credit: Archant

A drunken burglar from Stotfold “went berserk” and caused almost £75,000 in damage to a family’s Lake District second home during a five-day trespass.

Darren Richard Spicer, 44, went on the run after initially being caught for that crime last summer – and then broke into another home 500 metres away before being detained again.

Spicer was handed a 35-month jail term today by a judge who concluded that the first offence was “unprecedented in cases I have seen”.

Details of that burglary were given to Carlisle Crown Court by prosecutor Reginald Mills, who said it occurred during mid-August in 2017.

At the time Spicer was an alcoholic who travelled to the Lakes to “clear his head” and was sleeping rough.

Renovation work was being carried out at a family’s unoccupied second home – Elleray Cottage in Elleray, Windermere. Suspicious builders found damage, searched the property and saw Spicer sitting in a lounge using a laptop.

Police were called and, while the builders tried to stop him leaving, Spicer did his best to flee.

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“He was detained as a result of what can only be described as the courageous actions by the builders, who took hold of him, keeping him there until police arrived,” said Mr Mills.

While “pinned to the ground” he threatened the builders, saying: “I hope you have got a good lawyer. You’re assaulting me.”

Photographs seen in court showed the £73,000-plus damage Spicer caused after using a slate to smash through patio doors.

“When inside he found a large quantity of alcohol and essentially went berserk,” said Mr Mills. “He spent three days drinking alcohol and essentially trashing the property.

“It appears he had an utter disregard for the rights of the householders and a complete contempt for the property and the extensive damage and outright vandalism he committed.”

Mr Mills described how alcohol bottles were hurled at walls and floors, saying: “It is a scene of utter devastation.”

Victim Paul Anthony Riding had said the “invasion of privacy” meant his family had not stayed at the property since. He added: “The most upsetting part of this has been the damage that has been caused. Our family cannot understand why somebody would do such a thing to another person’s home.”

Bailed by magistrates, Spicer failed to show for court and went on the run until early July. He burgled a property 500 metres from the first crime scene, Orrest Howe – snatching thousands of pounds’ worth of jewellery and belongings during a “messy search”.

He was detained by the second victim, Stephen Unsworth, who found him sleeping rough and recovered some property, including a Frédérique Constant watch and a diamond ring.

Spicer, previously of Regent Street in Stotfold, was said to have been an IT worker who “became homeless and turned to alcohol”.

Addressing the court over a video link, he said: “I’ve lost everything through my addiction. It’s taken a huge toll on my physical and mental health.

“Having been in prison, having had a lot of time to sit and reflect and think, I’m absolutely aghast at what I have done and I don’t recognise myself. I just wanted to say I am terribly sorry.”

Spicer was jailed for 35 months after admitting the two burglaries and going equipped, after being found with a glass hammer.

Judge James Adkin said: “It is clear to me the damage caused to the interior was caused deliberately and maliciously, and it has the appearance of destruction undertaken in an alcoholic rage.”

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