Drug addict burglar who confronted boy 11 was chased down by Plymouth dad
A DRUG addict who confronted an 11-year-old boy during the burglary of a family home has been jailed for three and a half years.
Career criminal William Butler claimed he had got the wrong house after entering the back door of the detached home, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
The boy's father followed 47-year-old Butler and collared him in a nearby lane – when the burglar told him he wanted the house "next door".
Judge David Ticehurst said Butler's story was "nonsense".
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He added: "If the jury had been particularly stupid, that's the only hope he had."
The judge praised the father, sitting at the back of court, who got hold of Butler.
He told the defendant: "You are lucky this man did not beat you up. That is the risk burglars take."
The court heard how the family now felt insecure in their own home and some of the children did not like going to parts of the house alone.
Butler, of Torridge Way, in Efford, had denied entering the home in Plymouth with intent to steal on January 20. But he changed his plea on the eve of his trial.
Jason Beal, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said the parents were in the front room of their house at about 11am that Sunday morning.
He added the back door to a kitchen and conservatory area was closed but not locked.
Mr Beal said the 11-year-old boy saw Butler on the back step and alerted his parents.
He added Butler, who had stepped into the kitchen, "stopped in his tracks" before fleeing.
Mr Beal said the father followed him in a car and got hold of him in a nearby back lane.
He added: "The defendant said: 'Sorry, mate, I have got the wrong house. I want the one next door'.
"To which the householder replied, not unsurprisingly, that there was no next door."
Mr Beal said Butler was caught by police in the area later that day after officers distributed leaflets with his description.
The court heard Butler had convictions going back to 1977, when he was just 11. He has several for burglary of homes and businesses.
Malcolm Clark, for Butler, admitted the family's house had been "very distinctive", though not far from the friend's home which he wanted to visit.
He added: "He is a drug user who resorts to crime to fund his habit."
Judge Ticehurst said: "You are a habitual burglar. That is what you do."
He read from a statement from the family which said one of their children was too scared to go to the toilet or kitchen on his own.
The 11-year-old occasionally would not go upstairs on his own and the mother constantly checked to make sure the back door was locked, the court heard.