A long-standing and prolific burglar is back behind bars after his latest pre-dawn spree in one street, on a summer morning last year.
Gareth Brunskill was subject to licence supervision after his release from his previous 40-month prison sentence, also for burglary, when he went out trying house doors in a residential area, next to Ravensworth Golf Course, on the outskirts of Gateshead, in the early hours of Sunday, June 4 last year.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that a female resident of a house in Bramhope Green awoke as she felt a cold draught at 4am and so went downstairs and found the front door open.
John Crawford, prosecuting, said on making a subsequent check she discovered a handbag containing her purse, £500 and bank cards, was missing.
The bag also contained sentimental family photos and small heirlooms, while an estimated 200 cigarettes were also missing.
Mr Crawford said a couple in a house a few doors away awoke at about 7.45am on June 4 to discover keys to the family car were taken, and the Ford Kuga, which had been parked outside, was gone.
Several ceremonial coins were also missing from the house.
Meanwhile, the householders of another property in Bramhope Green woke to discover a number of phone alerts from their doorbell camera, triggered at 4.15am and 4.30am that morning by a figure wearing a balaclava mask apparently trying to gain entry.
The footage showed the figure walking away with a limp so they went out to search the area to see if they could find anyone with a similar gait in the area.
Brunskill was spotted nearby as his clothing matched what the figure on the doorbell camera wore, while he had the same limp.
He was seen next to the parked Ford Kuga, taken from the nearby address earlier, and he was apparently trying to break into the car.
Police were called and on arriving at the scene they arrested Brunskill, who did not comment when interviewed.
The, now, 42-year-old defendant, of no fixed abode, subsequently pleaded not guilty to two counts of burglary, one of attempted burglary, and one of aggravated vehicle taking.
But, at a later plea hearing, he changed his pleas and made admissions, while he also asked for a further offence of attempted burglary, at another house in Bramhope Green that morning, to be taken into consideration.
Mr Crawford said the defendant had a “significant” antecedent history, including 24 previous convictions for house burglary, for which he most recently served prison sentences of 48 months, 32 months and 40 months, in the last seven years.
The court heard as a result of his offending in June last year he was recalled to prison to serve the outstanding part of the 40-month sentence, imposed in 2022.
Rachel Hedworth, in mitigation, said the defendant was aware of, “what is in store for him.”
She said he has been taking drugs and committing offences, many of burglary since the age of 15, but she said since he has been in back in custody from June 5 last year, he appears to be working well in prison, where he has become “substance-free” and is about to obtain “enhanced status”.
He is said to have a good job as a prison chef and has completed two drug-free courses.
Miss Hedworth added: “He really does feel that this time he has done as much as he can in custody.”
Recorder Felicity Davies said the background to Brunskill’s spate of offending in the early hours of June 4, last year, was of him being, “a prolific burglar of houses”.
She told him: “You’re 42 and you have an absolutely appalling record for house burglary, the first as a young offender in the 1990s.”
Recorder Davis acknowledged Brunskill’s apparent belated wish and efforts in prison to turn around his life.
See more court stories from The Northern Echo, by clicking here
Two Blackhall families had to flee homes after arsonist started fire Brothers jailed for taking car from outside Shiney Row home Stanley man arrested in stolen motorhome on remote Scottish isle Get more from The Northern Echo and start 2024 informed with 30 per cent off an annual subscription or enjoy 5 months for just £5. Click here
But she told him: “None of this would be of any use without you having the determination to stay off drugs and not to burgle people’s homes.”
Imposing a 36-month prison sentence, she said due to the recall to serve the previously unserved part of his most recent sentence, the latest jail term only starts from today (Tuesday, February 6), despite Brunskill having been in custody since June 5, last year.
He will also be banned from driving for a year upon his release from his latest prison sentence and then must pass an extended re-test to lawfully be able to take to the road in future.