A SERIAL burglar who broke into a Blackpool home just hours after he was released from prison has been jailed for two years.
John Kilpatrick, who has 57 previous convictions, was released from prison in July this year after finishing an eight-month sentence for burglary.
But the very next day the 43-year-old was caught on CCTV stealing £3,000 worth of property from a house on Whitegate Drive.
In another raid he was only stopped after being challenged by the plucky 86-year-old resident.
Outraged justice campaigners today said the case strengthens calls for tougher community sentences rather than ‘wasteful’ short-term prison sentences.
Rona Hooper, director of Make Justice Work, which commissioned a report on short prison sentences backed by former Metropolitan Police chief Sir Ian Blair, said: “It’s a national disgrace so much public money is still being wasted on ineffective short prison sentences.
“We are calling on the Government to bring this to an end.”
Preston Crown Court heard Kilpatrick, of Cookson Street, who was due to go on medication to treat drug addiction, went straight to the community drugs team on Whitegate Drive following his release, but was too late to see them.
He returned the next day after taking valium and alcohol but was told to leave because of the state he was in.
He then broke into two houses on Whitegate Drive, accosting an 86-year-old woman and stealing £3,000 worth of property.
Andrew Cresswell, prosecuting, said at one of the homes, two laptops, a Kindle and other property including a video camera and Nintendo DS had all been taken that afternoon.
The upstairs had been ransacked.
CCTV at that address captured the defendant as he went through the front gate. A police officer who studied the images recognised Kilpatrick.
In the other burglary, a confrontation took place in the kitchen of an 86-year-old woman’s home.
When asked what he was doing, the defendant replied in a slurred voice that he was looking for board and lodgings.
He was asked to leave and exited via the back door, saying “sorry”. Nothing was taken.
Kilpatrick had pleaded guilty to one offence of burglary and another of burglary with intent to steal. He has 57 previous offences on his record, including a number for dishonesty and burglary.
Sophie Cartwright, defending, said Kilpatrick had made significant progress during his time on remand.
Miss Cartwright added “There was no pre-planning to the offences, it was an impulsive decision, an extremely foolish one. He was going to buy a large stash of drugs and bitterly regrets his actions”.
Judge Justice Royce told Kilpatrick he had a bad record for dishonesty.
He said although the defendant had not stolen anything from the elderly woman’s home, the effect of a confrontation on someone of that age was going to be very substantial.
Sentencing, he said: “You, as a burglar, are not to know who you are going to come across when you go into someone else’s house. These offences, for a man with your record, demand an immediate custodial sentence”.
Coun Sarah Riding (above), of Talbot Ward, where Kilpatrick lives and the crimes where committed, said short-term prison sentences were clearly ineffective.
She said: “We have a lot of problems in Talbot Ward because there are a lot of areas of deprivation.
“For repeat offenders, short term sentences do not work because it often ignores why these people are offending.
“Intensive community sentences could work for the right people, but even those sentences have to be part of a package of rehabilitation.
“I agree community-based schemes can work because people are visibly doing something, the community damaged by the crime can see that.”